How to Talk with Children About the War in Ukraine


Russia’s reckless and bloody invasion of the sovereign nation of Ukraine has captured the world’s attention, and for good reason. Not since World War II has one European nation attacked another. Vladimir Putin’s violent campaign has put the globe on edge, and now there are fears he may even use nuclear weapons.

Given the depth and breadth of these historic events, parents are inevitably facing questions from children. How should moms and dads respond?

First, it’s important for parents to limit children’s exposure to the round-the-clock coverage of the escalating crisis. While adults might be able to compartmentalize circumstances, kids don’t have that same capacity. The dramatic news can easily overwhelm them. Images of explosions, rocket fire and blown-up tanks are often too much for youngsters to process without growing fearful and anxious. Turn the television news off when children are around.

Second, providing perspective can be critical. Younger minds have a difficult time distinguishing immediate threats from distant ones. If you have a globe, take the time to show your son or daughter where Ukraine and Russia are in relation to where they are here in the United States. At the very least, pull a map up online and let them see how much water and land separates eastern Europe from America. Reassure them that it’s many miles between us and them.

Third, use simple language and terms they can understand to describe the situation. You might refer to Putin as a “bully” and tell them how he wants to own and control the country of Ukraine.

Also, let’s use the opportunity to remind our children of God’s love and care for us when difficult or scary situations arise. We need to encourage them to place their trust in Him.

For older children, it would be a good idea to share some history of the Soviet Union and how communism is a failed ideology. Nevertheless, Putin – a former KGB agent – seems to want to reconstitute the old guard. Afterall, he’s previously said the collapse of his former communist regime was the single greatest tragedy of the 20th century. 

Moms and dad should use this as an opportunity to talk about the fragility of freedom and how our own forefathers sacrificed mightily on their behalf. History is full of tyrants and dictators who unsuccessfully waged similar wars in a desperate ploy for power and control.

Finally, parents should lead their children in praying for a de-escalation of violence and a peaceful resolution in Ukraine. 



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