Mental Health Tips for Children During the Ukraine War

This article is part two of our discussion about the impacts on mental health and the war in Ukraine. Click here to read our tips for adults

Information on the war is continually changing. The youngest viewers, children, are watching and may experience the fear and stress associated with images from the war in Ukraine.

To add to the stress and concern, this global crisis comes on the heels of being exhausted and socially isolated by the pandemic. The following are some tips to help children that are impacted or stressed by the Ukraine situation.

Listen to children. Children hear and see things. This can be especially frightening if they have a parent deployed. It is important not to force them to talk. Find alternative ways to communicate with children such as drawing or playing with toys.

Calm conversation. It is important for parents to be calm when talking to their children about Ukraine. Parents need to be careful not to be the source of a child’s anxiety. Parents are encouraged to check-in and ask their children how they are doing.

Answer children’s questions. Support and acknowledge what your child is saying and their potential fears. Reassure your child but do not make unrealistic promises. Answer questions and help in separating fact from fiction.

Provide support. Do not let children watch the images of violence on television. Children who have experienced trauma may need extra attention. Some children may not want to talk about the event. It is okay if they would rather play or be outside.

Limit exposure to media and social media. Limit the exposure to graphic violence on media. For older children, watch the news with the child and then talk about how the child is reacting to what they are seeing.

Maintain a normal routine. Encourage the daily routines such as homework, sports, activities to continue.

Watch for changes in mood. Some children show their reactions in nonverbal ways. Watch for anger, physical symptoms, mood changes, or withdrawing from usual activities and conversations.

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