War in Ukraine. “We calm down with an explanation”: how to tell children about the conflict?

Dialogue between an adult and a child is essential when important events take place, such as the recent war in Ukraine. (© Sida Productions / AdobeStock)

“Why is there a war going on? “, ” Why Russia attacks Ukraine? », “Putin is a bad guy, so who are the good guys? “,” Will we also have a war in France? After February 24, 2022 and the Russian invasion of Ukraine, many parents have no doubt faced similar questions from their children. children.

After the Paris attacks, after the Covid-19 pandemic, a new complex topic has arisen that will occupy the heads of our youth and which it is important to discuss with them, in particular, in order to better calm them down.

Talk to soothe

For Claire, an SR class teacher from Hauts-de-France, the key word is dialog. There is nothing worse than leaving a child with his doubts and questions. “Children are real sponges, this is nothing new! They need to be spared a little, especially the youngest, but still talk, explain, because by explaining, we gain confidence”she starts news.fr.

The same story from the side of psychologist, psychoanalyst and psychotherapist Mark Vachez. “It is important to talk to children not only in this context, but every day. From everything that can touch them, affect them,” he explains to us, before quoting Sigmund Freud: “As long as someone is talking, it’s light. »

Moreover, at this age they do not have insights (psychological, geopolitical, emotional, behavioral, etc.). to let them think about war, conflict, death, evil and good.

Dr. Mark VachesPsychologist, psychoanalyst and psychotherapist

This dialogue between an adult and a child is all the more important because otherwise, in order to find answers to his questions, he can rely on what surrounds him and what surrounds him. draw wrong conclusions. “My parents fight a lot or their divorce is very conflicted: who told me that I shouldn’t also be afraid or worried about this other conflict that everyone is talking about? “, the child might thus be surprised.

Keep it simple and factual

Be careful, don’t forget that a child is still a child. “If a student asks me a question, I stick to the factsnot trying to hide something or lie to him, like telling him that it doesn’t matter when we talk about war,” Claire clarifies, but without getting into hypotheses or analyzes that are not her role.

We adults can ask 1,000 questions, but there is no need to fill our heads with “if, what, if and if”. The fears or doubts that we may have, we must know how to keep them to ourselves, because children do not necessarily understand the hypothetical and take the words of their authority figures (parents and teachers) at face value.

ClareTeacher in CP class

“We don’t talk to children the way we talk to adults,” confirms the psychologist from Paris. It is quite possible to talk about such a complex topic as the war with simple words. A proof with certain carriers, Claire adds, as Little daily paperwhich are specially designed for children.

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be reassuring

However, the speech should remain hopeful. As with the 2015 Paris attacks or the two-year-old pandemic, “a war that has just begun could break out reactivate that innate anxiety we all feel about death “Remembers Dr. Vaches.

We are aware that we will die, it is true, but we do not know where, when and how, and the war in Ukraine puts us in front of this question.

Dr. Mark Vaches

“You have to explain to the younger ones that yes, war is serious because it affects several countries, but also remember that humanity has known many,” Claire adds. The goal is to show the child that he, nothing to be afraid of in his scale “Because we’re going to do whatever it takes to make it work.”

Children at school and at home need support. This is our role as teachers, we have an important place for children, we represent adults as well as people who enjoy trust and authority.


Also recognize your limits

In addition, no less important talk about what you know than talk about what you don’t know. “We can’t just give answers, especially with news that develops day by day, like Covid,” the psychologist emphasizes.

Then this is the case turn the tide and also ask questions to the child: what do you think? What do you feel ? Does it scare you? So many tips to share with him in the best possible way.

Need help sorting information and transcribing news from a child’s point of view? Keep in mind that there are several media specifically dedicated to the little ones. Claire mentioned the newspaper daily newspaper (for children 6-10 years old), but you can also mention the platform 1day1news Published by the Milan youth group and intended for children aged 8-12. Another source of information for the little ones: podcasts Information about France for juniors or TV show 1 day, 1 question in France 4.

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