A problem shared by mother-of-four and GP Clare Bailey

A problem shared by mother-of-four and GP Clare Bailey

A problem shared by mother-of-four and GP Clare Bailey: How do I talk to my eight year old about Ukraine war?

  • An anonymous person seeks advice on how to talk about the war in Ukraine
  • They are concerned about how to best reassure their eight-year-old son
  • Turning to Clare they asked how can the speak to their son without scaring them

Q My son, aged eight, is sensitive and is starting to pick up on news about climate change, Covid-19, and the war in Ukraine. He is particularly concerned about the war and, as it’s ongoing, I’m not sure how best to reassure him. How can I talk to him without making things worse?

A It can be hard to find the right moment and words to talk to children about distressing things. You may want to protect him, yet the reality is your son is likely to hear about these alarming issues from friends, school and the media. 

Children listen to casual comments and may worry without telling you. I recall my mother saying that when I was five they hadn’t yet paid the TV licence and I was convinced my father was heading for prison. 

It’s good your child is telling you his worries so you can help make sense of what’s happening and contain it. Check in with him occasionally, at meal times (rather than bedtime). Before jumping in, ask him what he knows about the war. Listen quietly and let him ask you more. 

An anonymous person seeks advice on how to talk about the war in Ukraine. They are concerned about how to best reassure their eight-year-old son

Use open questions so you can gauge his feelings and understanding. Show him you’re taking him seriously. Acknowledge that it’s natural to worry, but assure him he is safe. He might prefer to draw a picture about his feelings, and you can talk to him about it. 

Your children take cues from you — if you talk constantly about worrying things and look upset, they will pick up on this. You don’t need to pretend all is rosy, and you could say it makes you sad, too. But be reassuring. Keep explanations simple. 

According to children’s charity Unicef, it’s important for young people to know action is being taken to resolve the conflict. Give them positive information about international agencies working to keep people safe. They may like to donate clothes, toys or pocket money to a charity. Try to paint a hopeful view of the future and explain conflicts can be ended. 

Look out for signs of anxiety, such as being clingy, upset, irritable or withdrawn. Your son may be tearful and need reassurance or complain of physical symptoms like tummy pains or headache. His sleep or appetite may also be affected.

To build resilience, admit you worry too. Share coping techniques like deep breathing, distractions or talking things over. 

Children might try counting back from five or learn a slowbreathing exercise. Repeating a phrase such as ‘I can do this’ or ‘It will be OK’ can help. Picturing their favourite animal or place, or singing to themselves can be helpful diversions. 

Clare (pictured) advises using open questions so that you can gauge how your child is feeling and their understanding 

Congratulate your child when they deal with difficult situations, stay calm or contain their fears. They can be remarkably robust in times of anxiety, which can help them build resilience. 

Although anxiety is normal and often short-term, if it persists and is affecting their general wellbeing, consider seeking professional help. Techniques such as cognitive behavioural therapy are proven to help reduce anxiety in children.  

  • When it comes to cold water swimming, I usually brave it only in summer — until I spent a day with TV ‘ice man’ Wim Hof. Inspired, I tried a dip in the sea at Easter, although it was a numbing nine degrees. After a few slow, deep breaths I took the plunge. It was surprisingly easy. Oddly I didn’t feel cold, just tingly. You might wonder why people do this. But evidence shows it helps ‘tune up’ the immune system, cuts inflammation and boosts mood. Cold water is also used to speed up healing in muscle and ligament injuries. Best to try this after a few cold showers, and don’t do it with a medical condition.

Why I’m going wild for weeds

Clare says summer is an ideal time for foraging, when the leaves on plants such as dandelions are at their best

Early summer is an ideal time for foraging, when the leaves on plants such as dandelions are at their best. My favourite is what I thought was wild garlic leaves, which, when cooked, turn into garlicky flavoured greens. But having shared a photo on Instagram, my audience pointed out I’d actually got a threecornered leek. Thankfully, being part of the same group of plants, they are safe to eat and share the anti-inflammatory substance allicin. Blitz it with olive oil, parmesan, pine nuts and seasoning to make a foraged green pesto. 

Source: Read Full Article