EDUCATING YOUR CHILDREN ABOUT WAR
There has never been a time since 2001 when there hasn’t been some kind of conflict. Children are usually far away from the actual battle, which is a blessing, but that doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be informed about it by their parents.
The media will likely expose children to conflict at some time in their lives. In addition, terrorist actions might occur in our backyards, making it much more difficult for parents to talk to their children about these issues.
It is difficult to describe a terrorist attack that murdered innocents. Or, how do you respond to the topic of whether or not another 9/11-style incident will occur? Despite the difficulty of these discussions, it is essential to provide children with age-appropriate information on war.
Even grownups are afraid of terrorism and conflict. It’s terrifying for a kid who doesn’t know the facts or realize where the conflict occurs. Keep the conversation channels open even if you try to shield your child from witnessing pictures of conflict on television or elsewhere.
Engage Your Child in a Conversation
Even if a parent or other family member serves in the military, non-military families may be less likely to discuss the subject of war with their children. No matter how far away from your family, it’s still important to bring up the subject of war.
It’s difficult to broach when discussing the motivations of those who deliberately harm others. A terrifying and upsetting experience it can be for many children as well. Moreover, many beliefs are likely to directly conflict with the values you’ve been attempting to instill in your child.
Be prepared to address war facts with your child as soon as they bring it up at 4 or 5. Do it, however, in an age-appropriate way.
A kindergartener might hear, “Some people in another country disagree on what’s important to them, and war can erupt when that happens.” As long as the conflict isn’t going on near us, we’re safe.
As a parent, you must reassure your child that they are safe, as this is essential for a child’s well-being. Convoking your child and clearing up any misunderstandings is always a good idea.
If your child isn’t interested in discussing war, don’t pursue the issue—she may not be concerned about it yet, and small children shouldn’t be forced to be aware of the situation.
Overhear What Your Child Is Listening To
“Are any of your teachers talking about this at school?” can give you an idea of what your child already knows. or “Do you ever discuss this stuff with your friends?”
It’s possible that your child has heard snippets of information and is trying to make sense of them all. It’s also possible that he’s been following the news in ways you weren’t aware of.
If you know what your youngster already knows, it will be easier for you to begin your discussions. Pay attention to what your child has to say and demonstrate your interest in what he has to say by being an attentive listener.
To what end does war serve?
Your child may wonder why we’re fighting. The purpose of war is to keep horrible things from happening in the future, so keep your answer simple.
You might also bring up the idea that war is waged to protect specific groups of people. The conflict should be made clear that violence isn’t a good approach to resolve it, but in some cases, countries determine that war is necessary to protect their citizens.
Keep Your Distance When It’s Necessary
Generally speaking, parents should tell their children the truth. There is nothing wrong with providing your child with as much knowledge as possible.
Don’t let your child leave the chat with an even greater fear of war; keep the conversation age-appropriate and err on the side of caution. It is important to remember that your youngster does not need to know all of the horrible facts about what is going on in battle.
Stick to the facts and avoid exaggerating the impact’s size. And don’t make predictions about what will happen next or discuss how horrifying it will be if these things continue to happen.
Beware of Prejudiced Stereotypes
You may encourage your child’s bias when discussing a specific ethnicity or country. Therefore, you should exercise caution while making claims about war and terrorist activity. Instead of seeking revenge, focus on becoming well-informed and well-educated.
Talk about the war in general if you want to express your views. Your views on the justification for war and military intervention may differ from mine. The rationale you have for your beliefs can be something you teach your children if you consider it a part of your family’s values.
In the pre-teen and teenage years, your child may begin to express his views about war, and you don’t know if they’ll mesh with your own.
Respect your child’s opinions even if you disagree with them, and don’t argue or communicate your thoughts in a hostile manner.
Join Older Children and Teenagers in Observing Media Coverage.
It’s critical to limit media exposure for youngsters under the age of 13. Preschoolers and elementary schoolers may be particularly vulnerable to exposure to disturbing news reports, such as those covering a terrorist incident.
When you have a child around, turn off the news coverage. Remember that even when you think your child is engrossed with something else, they may be watching television or peering over your shoulder.
If you try to keep tweens and teens out of the media, they’ll still get some coverage. The newspaper’s front page or the latest news on their tablets and cellphones will be on display for them when they shop for groceries.
How much information your child can handle and how mature they are are things only you can answer. If she wants to watch the news or a wartime movie with you and you think she can handle it, do so.
Persuade her to ask questions, and if you don’t have an answer, promise to check back with her the next day.
Compassion should be cultivated.
You may want to talk to your kids about military duty and what it entails. A student’s family may be affected by the fact that one of their parents is a military member, and you can discuss this with them.
Your youngster can learn compassion and the necessity of supporting those in war-torn countries from this experience. If you want your child to feel like they’re making a difference, encourage them to participate in activities that benefit military families.
Aside from donating money to humanitarian organizations, you may also talk to your child about the plight of refugees fleeing conflict. It’s common for children to feel more safe and confident when they realize that they can help.
If you can spare a few dollars to aid children in war-torn nations or make a care package for soldiers serving abroad, your child will feel that he has a role to play in making the world a better place.
Identify the Good People Who Are Doing Good deeds.
Despite the horrors of war and terrorism, the world is full of good people doing their best to aid those in need. Remind your children of the many good people in the world by pointing out the instances where they witnessed someone doing a kind deed for someone else.
Look back in history for instances where people came together to lend a hand to one another. For example, there were a lot of people who wished to help in the aftermath of 9/11. Examples of people aiding those in war-torn countries can be found throughout history.
Experts who devote their lives to assisting others should also be mentioned. In times of war and terrorism, many people lend a helping hand: military personnel, government officials, police officers, medics, and nurses, to name just a few.
Be Conscious of Your Emotions
Observing your reactions to life’s ups and downs will teach your youngster valuable life lessons. To put it another way, pay attention to your stress levels and how you interact with others.
Anxiety over war and acts of terrorism is normal. You can tell your child that you’re afraid, but do it in a way that doesn’t overwhelm them. The best way to deal with your sentiments healthily is to focus on the steps you’re taking to do so.
Keep an Eye Out for Your Child Showing Signs of Anxiety
Because of the possibility of conflict, your child will likely be nervous, confused, and upset. This can have a more profound effect on some children than on others.
Be on the alert for changes in behavior such as difficulties sleeping, becoming more clinging, reverting to baby babble, thumb sucking, or bed-wetting in young children because they cannot express their stress verbally.
As youngsters get older, they may become increasingly concerned about death or report recurring thoughts about it. You should also be on the watch for an obsession with war or terrorism. In other cases, a child who talks about it constantly or consumes a large amount of media may be unable to cope with his fear.
These children, particularly those with mental health difficulties or who have undergone traumatic events, may be particularly vulnerable. Children who come from refugee or immigrant families may be more prone to stress and worry.
Consult your child’s pediatrician if they appear to be having difficulty coping with the images or information they have been exposed to. A doctor can evaluate your child and recommend them to a mental health specialist if necessary.