Media is full of messages about a possibility of a nuclear war. We all hope it is not going to happen, but nothing is certain at this point. Instructions are also circling around various media outlets, but one really got our attention. Sophie Yohani, a psychologist and professor from the University of Alberta, shared some ideas how to talk to your children about the threat of nuclear war.
You may think that’s unnecessary, but children are like sponges – they absorb everything from their surroundings. You would not be scaring them talking about a possibility of a war, because media already does that. Hey hear about pretty much every day and it is parents who have to deal with their anxiety and fear. This is how you should talk about this threat with your children.
First of all, you shouldn’t say that there will be no war, because you don’t know that. However, you should be hopeful and tell your children that it’s not the first time the world got so close to World War 3. In fact, several decades ago humanity managed to avoid breaking out into a conflict and it is likely we will avoid it now.
Secondly, you should involve grandparents, if possible. Grandparents have an image of experience and wisdom in children’s mind. And they really did live through a lot of historically significant events. And so their opinion would help very much to calm down children and tell them that there is nothing new that’s happening now.
Thirdly, adapt your speech to your child. Every child is different and you certainly know yours. You have to know his fears and thoughts and speak accordingly. While younger children may fear coming new semester, when they will have to leave the safety of their home, older ones may have some doubts about the future. You have to speak accordingly. And avoid confusion – children may not be interested in international relations, you have to speak in a way they understand what is happening.
Fourthly, don’t show too much that you’re worried as well. Children hear you having conversations and they may pick up that you’re afraid yourself. That is not good. They have to be able to draw some strength from you.
You also have to watch for signs of anxiety in your children, especially if they have some disorders. It could be some fidgeting, thumb sucking, insomnia and other symptoms. Just be calm – sometimes peacefulness is contagious.
Finally, seek for help when needed. If children are interested, allow them to read books about the Cold War. And, if you see a need for it, don’t hesitate to consult a child psychologist or paediatrician.
You may think that there will be no war – all of us are hopeful and it looks like we may be able to avoid it this time as well. However, for children this threat is real and you have to make sure they understand it and are not afraid to talk with you about it.