Some Ideas on How to Talk to Kids about the Israel-Hamas Conflict:
One of the hardest parts of seeing devastating news? Trying to contain its impact on kids. While it may be tempting to avoid talking about war entirely, experts say it’s generally better to start the conversation — particularly since your child could hear about it elsewhere. Here’s some advice on where to begin…
Check in with yourself. Before approaching your child, identify what you are thinking and feeling about the conflict (pro tip: it could be helpful to write this down or talk it out with a friend). Children often take emotional cues from adults, so remaining calm and rational will help your child do the same. Then, brush up on the facts — kids do have lots of questions. While you may not have all the answers, it’s helpful to have a basic understanding of what’s happening.
Find out what they know. You want to meet your kids where they are, so choose a time and place when your child is likely to be most comfortable opening up. (Worth noting: It’s best to avoid talking just before bed.) Get up to speed by asking questions like: What have you heard about what’s happening in Israel and Gaza? How do you feel about that?
Be honest and age-appropriate. Ultimately, you know your child best, so tailor the conversation for them. Regardless of their age, it’s important to validate their emotions and acknowledge whatever they’re feeling is natural. For younger kids (through elementary school), experts recommend being clear and concise. If your child asks why people are fighting, you might respond, “They are fighting over who’s in charge.” For older kids, lead with honest answers, provide context and history, and acknowledge when you don’t know something. Also, make sure to choose your words carefully: Conflicts between groups of people or specific regions can lead to prejudice and discrimination. Avoid referring to one side as “the bad guys” or “evil.” And use the word “Hamas” rather than “Palestinians” when talking about who Israel is at war with.
Limit social media use. As you already know, graphic images and videos have flooded feeds. So much so that some experts are recommending parents delete apps like TikTok and Instagram from their kids’ phones. While experts agree that it’s best to keep younger children away from media coverage, the reality is that it’s much harder — if not impossible — to do that with older kids. In that case, ask your kid to show you the images or videos that they’ve found scary. You can also use it as an opportunity to inform them about misinformation on social media.
Continue to check-in. The conversation shouldn’t stop there, especially since your kid may need time to process and reflect. Continue asking how they’re feeling and if they have any questions. And try to maintain a solid routine, since structure can help children feel reassured. Also important to note? Any changes in their mood and behaviour, including eating and sleeping patterns. If those persist, it might be helpful to seek professional help.
Source: The Skimm
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