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Health experts encourage check-ins with children about Russia-Ukraine war

APTOPIX Russia Ukraine War
Posted at 6:47 AM, Mar 10, 2022

CLEVELAND — While social media is giving us more and faster access to information out of Ukraine, it also means the images and videos are just a click away for kids.

So, how do you talk to children about what they're seeing on apps like TikTok?

Helping kids process difficult subjects like war and other tragedies isn’t easy and can even be traumatic to confront.

But experts say it is important.

The United Nations Children's Fund (UNICEF) released tips to help parents start those conversations.

First things first, ask your kid what they know about what’s going on and how they feel about it. Though, Dr. Vanessa Jensen, a pediatric psychologist with Cleveland Clinic Children's Hospital, says choosing a good time and place to make a child feel comfortable is key.

“If you ask kids are a lot more likely to tell you and it may take two or three times. It may take them saying nothing. Let it go for a while. It'll come back, she said.

Second, UNICEF recommends parents keep things calm and age-appropriate. Use age-appropriate language, watch their reactions and be sensitive to any emotional signs or anxiety.

“I always remind parents that they know their children best or their child. So, think about what your child's tolerance is for information,” she said.

Finally, spread compassion and not stigma. Conflict can bring about prejudice and discrimination against people or countries. So, UNCF recommends avoiding labels like “bad people” or “evil.” Instead, encourage compassion.

For example, Jensen says parents can say something like, “Sometimes when people get into really big disagreements, they do things to really try and hurt people and that's what's happening there and people are being hurt. But again, that's a long way away and you're safe here.”

Jensen also recommends modeling for your child. Letting them see you taking time for yourself and practicing healthy self-care. You can start turning the TV off and putting devices away during mealtimes as well. She says this can help build stability in chaos.

For more tips, click here.