Mental Health and Wellbeing
Supporting Your Child/ren Through the Ukraine Conflict
We are aware that some of our children are feeling anxious, worried or concerned about the current conflict in the Ukraine. Here are some ways you can support your child through this:
- The attached book list has a wide range of book suggestions which may be helpful for some children
- The attached leaflet has been produced by Dr. Ann Lane, a clinical psychologist, and contains several ideas and suggestions.
Experts at Save the Children share five tools and tips that caregivers can use to approach the conversation with children:
1. Make time and listen when your child wants to talk
Give children the space to tell you what they know, how they feel and to ask you questions. They may have formed a completely different picture of the situation than you have. Take the time to listen to what they think, and what they have seen or heard.
2. Tailor the conversation to the child
Be mindful of the child’s age as you approach the conversation with them. Young children may not understand what conflict or war means and require an age-appropriate explanation. Be careful not to over-explain the situation or go into too much detail as this can make children unnecessarily anxious. Younger children may be satisfied just by understanding that sometimes countries fight. Older children are more likely to understand what war means but may still benefit from talking with you about the situation. In fact, older children will often be more concerned by talk of war because they tend to understand the dangers better than younger children do.
3. Validate their feelings.
It is important that children feel supported in the conversation. They should not feel judged or have their concerns dismissed. When children have the chance to have an open and honest conversation about things upsetting them, it can create a sense of relief and safety.
4. Reassure them that adults all over the world are working hard to resolve this
Remind children that this is not their problem to solve. They should not feel guilty about playing, seeing their friends, and doing the things that make them happy. Stay calm when you approach the conversation. Children often copy the sentiments of their caregivers – if you are uneasy about the situation, chances are your child will be uneasy as well.
5. Give them a practical way to help
Support children who want to help. Children who have the opportunity to help those affected by the conflict can feel like they are part of the solution. Children can create fundraisers, send letters to local decision-makers or create drawings calling for peace.
If you require any more guidance, ideas or support then please contact us.
Books to Help Children with Anxiety
Books are a fantastic tool to help children develop the skills needed to manage their anxiety. The document below provides a list of books suitable for primary school aged children.
The CARD System
The CARD System (Comfort, Ask, Relax, Distract) provides groups of strategies that parents can play to help their children cope with stressful situations. The document below provides further information:
We use restorative practices in school to help resolve disputes with pupils. Every pupil involved is given a voice. Restorative practices can also be used at home to help resolve disputes between siblings and family members. This is how it works;
We use key questions to help us in the process;
1) What happened?
This is an opportunity to model the empathy and respect we want the individuals to develop. At this stage, the objective is for the individuals to feel understood and heard.
- Listen (use facial gestures and body language, and small words eg. ‘yes’, ‘okay’, ‘I see’, ‘um’… to demonstrate active listening)
- Ask questions if necessary
- Check if you understand properly (do you mean…?)
- If they use this as an opportunity to justify themselves, let them. The objective at this stage is for the individuals to feel heard and understood, not corrected.
- If what the individual is saying isn’t an accurate reflection of the truth ask inquisitive questions and check understanding: ‘are you saying that this happened?’
2) How were you feeling and what were you needing?
Simply identifying and understanding the underlying feelings and needs that cause behaviour can often be enough to resolve it.
- Suggest feelings and needs if necessary
- Respond with empathetic body language and facial expressions.
3) What were you thinking?
The objective at this stage is to help the individuals to express their perspective at the time of the incident. This is a great opportunity to for the listener to model empathy which de-escalates any existing conflict and lays the ground work for encouraging the individuals to empathise with others in the next question.
- Ask questions
- Check understanding
4) Who else has been affected? What do you think might be feeling?
The objective at this stage is to help the individuals develop empathy and emotional intelligence towards others. How you modelled empathy when listening to the individual in the previous stages will directly impact how well the person will be able to empathise with others now.
- Ask questions
- Make suggestions if necessary
5) What have you learnt and what will you do differently next time?
This is an opportunity to work with the individuals to find strategies moving forward for them to meet their needs in a way that will also be respectful of other people needs. If there doesn’t seem to be an easy solution, for example, they are bored in maths and they have rejected all ideas about how they could make it more fun for themselves, revert to empathy and sympathise with the challenge. The goal with Restorative Practice is to get everyone one step closer to meeting their needs whilst improving communication, understanding and empathy for one another
- Ask questions
- Check understanding
6) How can the damage be repaired?
Giving the responsibility to the individual to correct their behaviour is arguably more effective than a punishment.
Breathing Exercises for Children.
Learning to take deep breaths to calm ourselves is an important and useful skill. Here are some ideas to use with children.