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Tips for talking to kids about war

Children may have a hard time understanding what's going on overseas between Russia and Ukraine, and it's not any easier for adults to explain it.

PENNSYLVANIA, USA — Watching the conflict between Russia and Ukraine unfold overseas is tough for adults. 

And for children, it can be confusing and scary.

One parent says her kids are starting to ask questions.

"It's a little difficult because a lot of little kids don't understand what is going on. As parents, we try to do what we can to keep them safe," said Cheyenne Wieczorek, Scranton.

Mental health experts at St. Luke's University Health Network say when children become curious, the easiest place to start is by asking your child what they know. 

"If they are coming to you, that's a win. Then be curious about them, be curious about your kids. Tell me what you have seen. Have your friends been talking about it? Have your teachers been talking about it? Is it something you've seen on TikTok," said Suzanne Makary, SLUHN Psychiatric Partial Programs.

Keeping it simple might make the conversation easier.

"Using the word conflict versus war. Depending on how old the child is, have you ever seen someone in an argument? How does that make you feel, or what do you do when you see an argument," said Makary.

If your little one is still feeling uneasy, try turning a negative into a positive.

"In any conflict, there's always a helper. In war, we often think of the Red Cross or folks sending care packages. Encourage them to not only see the conflict but also the helpers," said Makary.

Experts say changes in your child's behavior, like clinginess, new-found night terrors, or fear of doing everyday things like going to school should be addressed.

"Acknowledge that they are scared. It's a scary thing. So, reinforce that they are safe and when they are feeling unsafe, how can they feel safer," said Makary.

See more videos on our area’s connection to the Crisis in Ukraine.  

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