I absolutely hate that I have to write this blog.
There is a war in Israel, and this is the reality of the world in which we must raise our children. But my job is to help and support parents and children. And so I write…again.
Wasn’t it only yesterday that I wrote about talking to your children about the War in Ukraine?
Having to explain an act of terror or violence or trauma to a child of any age is just plain daunting. As much as we try to shelter them, our children get exposed to the news. I fear that the news of the last days is no exception.
As hard as you will try to limit your young children’s exposure, there is almost no doubt that elementary school age children on up will know about this very real war. This is not the stuff of Paint Gun play. And while it is very far away (as we assure them), there are many people who have family and friends in the areas of conflict. It is hitting close to home and heart for many.
While we go to pains to shelter our preschool and early elementary school age children from this news, the chance that they might hear something does remain. It is fairly certain that your elementary school age children and older will be exposed to this terrible reality.
As I have written too many times previously, what you say will be different for every age child. There are, however, a few one size fits all caveats:
- Children look to their grown ups for safety and reassurance. They look to you for cues about how to react, even how to feel. Protect your children from your extreme emotions. Be aware of your own behavior, your mumbelings, and your affect. Find your calm when you are around your children. Do your best to take care of yourself and your own feelings away from your young children. Try not to leak. Remember, the walls have ears, and your children listen to you while you are on the phone.
- Be mindful about how you are getting your news. Turn televisions and radios off. The explanations you will give to your older children are far less vivid than the one they see on screens.
- Do your best to maintain your family’s routines and typical days. Children need to count on such regularity—mealtimes, bedtimes, homework times—when the world seems to be in such disarray.
- Keep your eyes and ears open. You know your child best. When something about your child seems different, when there are sudden behavior changes, it may be time for you to do a little digging to find out if there is something bothering him/her.
- Know when you need to seek help. If your child displays any lasting anxieties you may need to consult your physician or a mental health professional.
I urge you to reread my blog in which you will find age specific tips and scripts for talking to your children about the war: YOUR CHILDREN AND THE WAR IN UKRAINE.
While much of the information and many of the tips I offered in this previous blog about the Ukraine are applicable, the facts you share with your children will obviously differ.
While each of us has differing political opinions, I believe we share the feelings of horror over war and its violence. I am sick to my stomach when I think about all the women, men, and children of all ages who have been killed, wounded, taken hostage, about what is playing out in Israel and Gaza right now. This reality cannot be underplayed. But neither can our children’s need to feel safe be under emphasized. Helping our children to learn and to process the realities of our world including the bad ones, is one part of parenting that is no fun and so critical.
The people affected by this war are all human beings. Let us show our children that we care.Let us show them how we care, finding a way to actually help. The internet is filled with links to organizations that are providing help. The time is now.