When the news provokes fear
10 tips on how to talk to your children about war and other crises
Reports about wars, attacks or natural disasters can unsettle children and make them afraid. It is therefore important to talk to them and not to leave them alone with their own impressions. We have compiled some tips to help you and your children deal with anxiety-inducing news.
At school, in nursery or with friends – children hear a lot more than adults think. That's why it's best to ask them if they want to know something or if the topic is on their mind. Observe how they react, how they play later or whether situations suddenly frighten them. Not every child dares to say something. For this very reason, children should always be given space and opportunity to talk about their thoughts.At school, in nursery or with friends – children hear a lot more than adults think. That's why it's best to ask them if they want to know something or if the topic is on their mind. Observe how they react, how they play later or whether situations suddenly frighten them. Not every child dares to say something. For this very reason, children should always be given space and opportunity to talk about their thoughts.
See what your children already know and start a conversation with them. For example, use questions like:
"What do you already know about the topic?"
"What do you think it means?"
"What was said about it at school today?"
If you have an idea of what your children know, you can build on it. Refer to the examples they have given or use everyday situations that your children know.
Example: On the topic of war, one possible explanation that younger children in particular can understand well could be quarrelling. Children are all too familiar with quarrelling, and a war can be understood as a quarrel between two countries.
Tip: Sometimes a film or a book in which the topic appears can also help.
Use simple words and clear examples to explain the topic. Avoid dramatic exaggerations, accusations and curses. Depending on the age group, you can also give your children more details about the topic.
But make sure they want this to happen. If your children feel the need to know more, you can, for example, watch children's news programmes such as "logo!" together.
Even if it is about bad things like war, death or natural disasters, don't dodge or downplay the issue, even though it may make you uncomfortable.
You cannot keep your children away from everything unpleasant. It is better to show them that these issues are also part of life and our world. That way, they learn that there are always ways to deal with bad things. Actively dealing with these issues helps children to develop their self-confidence and cope well with challenging situations.
For example, a child might ask: "Do people die in war?"
A possible answer could be: "War means that people are in danger and may even die. That is why many try to flee from these areas. But here in Germany, there is no war. We are safe here."
Always ask your children if they understand what you are telling them. Also, accept it if they don't want to know more about the topic and would rather devote themselves to other things.
Say if the topic is complicated for you too and you don't understand everything about it. This will help your children understand why you talk about it so much with others or why you watch so much news.
Even though not all children have experienced a disaster themselves, they build up their own fantasy world about it without explanations and may get scared. They feel that all this might also arrive in their home.
Talk calmly and slowly with your children. Avoid these topics before bedtime.
Tell your children that a lot is being done so that people can live in safety and peace.
For example: There are many people and organisations in Germany and around the world that work for peace. Germany even belongs to an alliance in which many countries protect each other.
logo!, Ask Finn!, Blinde Kuh – numerous sites provide your children with age-appropriate information on complicated topics such as war and other disasters. With extra children's pages and videos, these platforms also offer opportunities to get information on social media.
Help your children deal with the media. Talk to them about good sources.
Make it clear to yourself and your children that this is an exceptional situation. Not everything is bad in the world. The news often reports about bad things happening in the world. But there is also good news. Tell each other something that is good or look at the year with your children and all the good things that are yet to happen (birthday, holiday, etc.).
Tip: Sometimes it is also good for adults to switch off everything (including mobile phones) and concentrate on something mundane: for example, making a meal, playing a game, reading a story.
Should I talk about crises with young children? nach oben
We talk about topics such as war, death and other crisis situations differently with younger children than with older ones.
The age and developmental stage of the children plays an important role in such conversations. Every child is different. Some children grow up sheltered and without any experience with crises. If these children do not bring up the subject of war on their own, parents should not confront them with it. Other children who have fled from crisis areas or have relatives there have different needs and different thoughts about it.
Conversations with younger children must be conducted more gently and playfully. Topics such as war, conflict and death are not yet as tangible for them as they are for young people. If younger children can already relate to the topic because they have heard something on the radio, from friends or in nursery, parents should not ignore this. Otherwise, parents can try to radiate calm and composure and postpone watching the news until the children are at nursery.
Stand: 27.04.2022, 10:49 Uhr