Guest Post by Pola Morrison, eLuma Mental Health Clinical Services Specialist
As we seemingly near some sense of normalcy within our schools and communities, the recent events in Ukraine remind us that the idea of “back to normal” life is temporary. Many of us are struggling with the images we have seen in Ukraine and the painful moments of families being separated. We should be mindful that our children may also be watching these events unfold through the media as well. Children and youth may be re-experiencing concerns about safety, fear, worry, or even anger as they did when the world shut down. They may have questions or feel that they need a better understanding of what is happening globally and why it may impact us at home.
The National Child Traumatic Stress Network suggests that we start the conversations with our children about the war in Ukraine. What do they know about the situation? What have they heard? Expect these conversations to be ongoing as there will be an increasing amount of media coverage as events continue to develop. Help them to understand the events at their developmental age and check to see if they are misinformed. For younger children particularly, try not to overwhelm them with too much information, but only answer questions they have and provide a sense of reassurance that they are safe.
It’s important to notice the media and adult conversations happening around our children and youth. Does this cause stress or worry? Try to understand how the media is impacting their emotional stability and start those conversations about their concerns or assist in understanding what they’re feeling. Families and communities can feel empowered by creating ways to be supportive, provide service, and be informed. By supporting their ability to understand stress, worry, or even anxiety, we can start helping children learn the skills they need to manage those emotions.
If we’ve learned anything from the pandemic, it is that isolation and misinformation are obstacles to developing resiliency. We should all take notice of the heroes abroad and within our communities and help our children learn to reach out when they are feeling troubled or confused.
Here are a few resources that may help with starting those conversations.