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talking to children about conflict

Skills for Life tips for supporting children around the events in Ukraine

Children may be feeling anxious about the conflict in Ukraine. The tips below based on the Skills for Life programmes are designed to help you to support children to find healthy ways to deal with their feelings and reactions to what is happening:

1. Talk about their feelings and worries

It is important for children to be able to talk about their questions and worries with a parent or another trusted adult. Talking openly about the situation will help children to process their thoughts and be less worried about them. Understanding that we are experiencing feelings can help us find ways to cope with a situation. Encourage children to name their feelings and share your own. Allow them to feel how they feel and validate how they are feeling by letting them know that it is normal to feel scared or angry.

2. Be open to questions

Despite their worries, children may still be very curious and ask many questions about what is happening. Remember, you do not need to know all the answers, but talking things through can help children to feel calmer.

3. Encourage healthy coping strategies

Helping children to find ways to relax and cope is vital to help their mind and body switch off from their worries. Discuss different things they can do to help themselves feel better and try some of them out together.

4.  Provide reassurance and give hope

Let children know that there are many people around the world working to resolve the conflict. Ask them what would help them at this time to make them feel less worried or safe. If appropriate, plan ways they can help, for example raising money or posting messages of hope.

Helping Hand Activity
An activity to support children cope with uncertainty and worry caused by the conflict, including a method for recognising and labelling thoughts as 'helpful' and 'unhelpful'. Created by our Norwegian partner organisation Voksne for Barn.

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