Help children and families in Ukraine
UKRAINE – February 28 2022

How do I talk to my child about the situation in Ukraine?

Your child, whatever their age, may feel anxious or upset about the latest news from Ukraine. Here are our top tips on how to approach the topic—or any tricky subject.

1. Don't play things down

You definitely don’t have to share every detail with your children no matter what age they are, but don’t lie to them either. You can explain that it’s a really difficult situation without them needing to know everything. Acknowledge their feelings of concern and worry, and let them know you share those feelings too. If they ask for specifics, such as “Will people die?” then be honest: “I really hope not, but it could happen. I find that worrying. How do you feel about it?”

Modeling to them that you can tolerate uncertainty and difficult information can help them see that this is a difficult situation—it can make them feel unhappy or worried, but they can tolerate those feelings.

2. The most valuable phrase ever invented can be: "I don't know"

You don’t need to have all the answers. Because, let’s face it, you actually don’t, do you? How long this war might last, how many people will be affected—these are not things anyone anywhere could ever possibly know, so don’t make it up or even try to guess.

Acknowledge what you don’t know. Recognize the feelings of anxiety, worry and helplessness that such uncertainty might trigger. Ask your child what they would like to do. If they don’t know or don’t have ideas, tell them that you don’t know either but that you’re happy to talk more about it if it worries them.

3. Keep the lines of communication open

This is a situation which, unfortunately, may go on for some time. The news may go from bad to worse. It’s important that your child knows they can come back to you and talk about this again. Don’t shut down the conversation with assurance that it will be over soon—let them know that yes, it is worrying, and it’s hard when there isn’t anything we can usefully do to help. Sit with them in those feelings and remind them that they can talk to you any time about how that makes them—and you—feel.

4. Don't add your own editorial commentary

Whatever our opinions about who is right or wrong, remember that if we express our opinions openly in front of our children, they might take what we say as fact. If we tell them that wars happen because bad people are mean to good people, we do not do justice to the complexity of a war. Would it help your child to know that there is perhaps a great injustice happening, or will that only increase their anxiety at this time?

As our amazing colleague, Serhii Lukashov, the National Director of SOS Children’s Villages in Ukraine said, their focus now is: “for children in Ukraine to grow up without hate." And if they can do that, so can you.


We sincerely thank SOS Children's Villages in the United Kingdom for providing this valuable advice for parents and caregivers.

For media inquiries, please contact Rachel Taschenberger, Director of Branding and Content (SOS Children's Villages USA), by email at ​

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