How to Talk to Kids About War and conflict

Distressing images of international violent conflicts and war are currently all over Australian media, and it can be difficult to know how to support our children when they learn of these violent acts. Here are some ways to talk to kids about war and conflict:

Plan International Australia Child Rights Specialist, Sophie Shugg suggests that no matter how hard you try to shield your kids from these scenes, it’s inevitable they will either hear about events via the people around them, or see images of war in the media. “These scenes and images can often be tough for young children to understand and process, and that can leave them feeling distressed, confused or anxious,” says Sophie.

Be Honest

Parents can discuss war and conflict truthfully with their children, without having to go into painful detail – respecting their children and helping them process what they are seeing while still encouraging their growing sense of compassion and empathy.

The Right Time and Place

The guide also suggests parents find a time and a place for kids to talk, allow them to lead the conversation and look for the non-verbal signs that they may be feeling distressed – like acting out war games with their friends. “Kids have many ways of working through stress, and many are not obvious even to their parents. But, if they can spot the signs and talk through their concerns, parents can really help their kids cope,” Sophie says.

Words by Charlotte Karp

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Guest Contributor