It is natural that we worry about the safety of our dearest people. And for children in times of war, it can be especially difficult to deal with this anxiety and this ordeal.
So, how to support the little one and reduce his stress:
1. Explain to the child why relatives are at war
It is easier for both children and adults to overcome trials if they understand their meaning.
You can explain that “our dad protects our dear Ukraine. He went to war because he loves us very much, and he fights together with our whole brave army so that we can win, so that there will be peace, and we will have a happy future…”.
Help the child to feel proud of his relatives, for the fact that they are involved in a great cause: “We, of course, miss our father very much, but we know that he is now where it is needed for our country, we are with him with all our hearts and with our army”.
2. Maintain relationships
If possible, call, give the child a chance to talk. At the same time, explain that this is not always possible and that relatives may not have access to communication due to the circumstances of military service.
Put a photo of a loved one serving in a prominent place. Talk about her, remind her regularly, make it a habit to “say hello” or pray (if you are a believer).
Also invite the children to draw pictures, record messages on the dictaphone, take photos of special moments, so that you can send them later, talk about them later.
3. Watch what the child sees and hears from the news – discuss it with him
A child has the right to know what is happening in the war, but it is important for him to comment and explain, because he can sometimes give it wrong meanings, worry excessively. The message that someone has died, she can relate to the fact that it is relatives, although in fact it may refer to a completely different war zone.
Make sure that the child is not overloaded with information about the war, losses, does not have access to content that is not for children.
4. Help the child cope with anxiety and sadness
These feelings are natural, so it is important to normalize them, to separate them: “We are also sad that our father is not with us now. We are all worried too.” But at the same time, give hope: “But we believe in our victory and are waiting for our father from the war.”
We cannot give the child 100% assurances that the father cannot be injured or die, but we can help the child live with this unknown and at the same time not worry excessively: “In war, it happens that someone dies or gets injured. We are also worried about dad and his siblings, but we believe that everything will be fine. But there is no use in thinking about it all the time – let’s better switch our attention to some useful things.” Engaging your child in activities can be the best way to overcome anxiety.
5. Be sensitive to the needs of both the child and your own
It is important for children to feel safe, so make sure that all their most important needs are met. Sometimes, when a relative has recently been mobilized, it can be difficult for the child – for example, the father helped with homework, but now he is gone.
But remember, too, that your needs are also important. Do not hesitate to ask for support and help. Take a look – maybe something can be simplified or some tasks can be temporarily abandoned or redistributed among family members.
And don’t forget to take care of yourself – the road to victory requires a wise distribution of energy and regular recovery.
Source: the center of health and development Kolo family