The news at the moment is quite scary; in this “online age” we simply can’t avoid it and children are likely to come across it too. This means they are likely to ask questions or seek reassurance from parents (who may also be feeling worried). We don’t have all the answers, but several organisations have helpful information about how to tackle both bad news in general (because sadly there is always bad and scary news) and what’s happening in Ukraine right now.
Information for children and young people
BBC Newsround’s “Advice if you’re upset by the news” has tips for children about what they can do if they’re sad, upset or worried because of something they’ve seen, heard or read. The BBC’s “When I worry about things” may also be useful; it’s a collection of five animations about mental health, including one about panic attacks (in case worrying about the news induces one).
Childline has information on their website for children and young people who are worrying about what’s happening in Ukraine: https://bit.ly/CHLnukrn.
Of course, the basic suggestion is for children to talk with their parents or another trusted adult if they’re worried.
Information for parents and other adults about talking with children and young people
The good news is that there’s lots of information about what parents and other adults can do and say – although some of it is similar, you may find a particular tip highlighted or explained really well in one article (so do check more than one!).
The Mental Health Foundation has information about talking to your children about scary world news (this is a general article for any scary news): http://bit.ly/MHFbadnews.
Barnado’s also has 5 tips for talking to your child about their worries.
The BBC Own It site has information about helping children cope with distressing/worrying news they see online (and how to talk with them about it): https://bbc.in/35UfCAU.
On 25th March the Department for Education published advice on its Education Hub for teachers and families to talk with children about Russia’s invasion of Ukraine (and also how to help them avoid misinformation): https://bit.ly/DFEtlkukrn.
The same day the British Psychological Society also published advice and guidance for supporting children to manage anxiety over war, conflict and crises.
BBC Bitesize has an article about how to talk with a teenager about the invasion of Ukraine, written by Dr Sheila Redfern of the Anna Freud National Centre for Families and Children: https://bbc.in/3CimIez.
Action For Children’s site has a shorter article (How do I talk with my child about the Russian invasion of Ukraine) which may be helpful for parents of younger children.
Young Minds’’ Tips for talking with your child about events in Ukraine has advice for different ages compiled by their Parents Helpline experts: https://bit.ly/YMukr4n.
Roots Psychology Group (based in Worcestershire) has advice written by Dr Kate Mason about how to talk with your child about world events, again for varying ages. https://bit.ly/RTStlkw3v.
Information for Adults
Adults are affected by the news too – and it’s not easy to reassure a child if you’re concerned about what’s happening and feeling a bit scared yourself. It’s important to look after yourself and your own mental health too!
The Spark (based in Scotland) has an article about bad news, anxiety and the media is a short read: http://bit.ly/sparknws1.
The Mental Health Foundation has tips to look after your mental health during scary world events: https://bit.ly/MHFscrynw.
The Blurt Foundation has advice about self-care for when the news is terrifying: http://bit.ly/blurtnews8.
Yes, this is a time of uncertainty and worry. If your child’s mental health (or your own) is affected by the war in Ukraine, remember that there are organisations to talk to (or text). Here’s a short list of a few of them:
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