It has been really hard to watch the recent news about the Russia-Ukraine invasion and I often think about how our kids are processing everything. My daughter informed me that the school have been keeping her class up to date over the past few weeks. Then of course there will be stories and chat from others, I have heard of kids saying that ‘Russia will take over the world.’ I am aware that some children are more sensitive and anxious than others and that this can spiral quickly. I will often try and talk to my daughter and son separately, in an age appropriate way. My daughter likes to know what is happening, whereas my son prefers to dodge the negative news as it scares him. I don’t listen to the news when I am with the kids as I feel that at 9 and 7, they are too young.
Firstly, I think it is important that we find out what our kids already know or think they know based on what they have heard from others. One of the greatest needs of a child is to feel safe. Despite all the shock, anger and fear from the news, that fills our body up with adrenalin and activates our stress system, we need to take time to reassure them too. Last night we spoke about all the helpers and experts around the world who are working together to bring peace and keep everyone safe. We also had a chat about our own family values and spoke about the fact that we need to stand up for what is right and that what is happening is very wrong. We spoke about how fortunate we are to have grown up in a country that allows freedom of speech. At bedtime we then take time to pray for peace and all those in need. My daughter loves this and it helps to relax her before bed. When we know we can do things to make a difference, it allows us to feel a greater sense of hopefulness. The act of prayer or meditation also gives us an opportunity to stop and surrender and pour loving thoughts out to those who need it the most.
No matter what age, we must normalise whatever feelings our kids may be having about the news by telling them it’s ok to feel sad, scared or angry. It is natural. If you find that you are being triggered by the news, make sure you take special care of yourself. If videos or images are too much, then restrict your exposure to written news updates. After all we have been through with covid, you may be impacted by the recent news in a way that you might not have been three years ago. Many of us are tired and want to move on with some positivity so the thought of another global disaster can be overwhelming and of course heartbreaking to watch.
Do something screen free that you enjoy such as reading, walking, wild swimming or catching up with friends and family. Get out in nature to tap into your soothing system. Be kind to yourself. You got this.
Jojo Fraser is an award-winning mental health researcher, author, podcaster and keynote speaker, dubbed as ‘the Queen of positivity and a kindness advocate. She is a Tedx speaker and a regular contributor on BBC radio. Jojo is known for normalising discussions around our mental and spiritual health, making it accessible and relatable to all. She has quickly grown a reputation for having a huge impact even on the most sceptical of people.