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Talking to Children about Conflict and War
October 30, 2023
Preventing conflicts is the work of politics; establishing peace is the work of education.
-Maria Montessori (1870-1952), Italian physician and educator

An article on the UNICEF website, “How to talk to your children about conflict and war,” provides eight tips for supporting and comforting children during troubling times.

Here is one suggestion:

“Be mindful of how exposed your children are to the news while it's full of alarming headlines and upsetting images. Consider switching off the news around younger children. With older children, you could use it as an opportunity to discuss how much time they spend consuming news and what news sources they trust. Also consider how you talk about the conflict with other adults if your children are within hearing distance.”

In the Out of the Box Training, “Choosing Courage in a Climate of Fear,” Jeffrey Perkins writes:

“In these times it can seem as though everything is a reminder that we live with a lot of unknowns. Often these unknowns are connected to a cause for concern and anxiety. Inundated by media reports chronicling dangers of every size and shape, it is hard not to feel overwhelmed. And yet this constant surveillance for threat, that children hear about in the news or from our own discussion and anxiety, has the potential to teach our children very important, unintended lessons about our world.

How can we respond to these threats from a place that acknowledges the reality of the world we live in without giving into fear’s desire to paralyze us? In this climate of fear how can we work with children in ways that don’t further support an overwhelming suspicion about the world?”

Perkins also provides a number of suggestions for families and early care and education professionals. Here is one:

“Most fears that children and adults have can be explored through art or play. Help parents find ways to explore their children’s fears by providing recommended reading of children’s books on common fears. Choosing to respond with curiosity can also model essential problem solving skills to our children…

There is no doubt that the world is a quickly changing place that provides lots of opportunities for stress and anxiety. Helping young children work with their fears now will help them build the foundation they need for confronting challenges and crises throughout their lives.”


P.S. On Thursday, October 19th, Michele Hemenway Pullen shared this in the EED comments:
"Here's a poem by a local Louisville Poetess - a 3 minute listen! WELL WORTH YOUR TIME!"
It truly is wonderful inspiration for these troubling times. Thank you, Michele.


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