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HOW TO TALK TO CHILDREN ABOUT THE WAR

I was recently asked to talk about children and the war on Channel 7 NBC Ft. Myers and I thought that it would be helpful to summarize my recommendations.

Limit the time they spend watching television: It is inevitable that children will see details of the war in the television or hear in the radio but no is particularly important that the time spend in front of the television should be limited. Be sure that they do their school work, after school activities and play at this time

Donít let children watch television news by themselves: Parents should be present to answer questions and to allow children to discuss their concerns.

Give simple explanations about the war: Explain the war in a simplistic manner so children can understand and lessen their anxiety e.g. Lives are lost to prevent future deaths.

Donít vent your own opinion.- Children donít understand controversial issues and they should not be part of the forum for you political views.

Donít instill hatred.- There are not good people and bad people. There are children in the war that have nothing to do with their government or with the war. Hatred just brings more hatred.

Just answer their questions: Donít go beyond what the child is asking you or what he is ready to hear. Explaining more than they are ready to handle just brings more anxiety.

Reassure your children that the war is far away: Television gives the false impression that the war is right on the living room or in the neighborís house. It is helpful to show them on the map where the war is taking place and turn it into a useful geography lesson.

Reassure them that you are there for them. Make sure that they know that you are going to be there for them.- Childrenís major concern is what is going to happen to their parents. Telling them that nothing is going to change in their family can be very beneficial for the child.

Doní t lie to them. If a family member is in the war, tell them that they are working to keep everybody else safe. If you have religious belief\s, tell them to pray with you for the safe and prompt return of the love ones

Consult a Child Psychiatrist: If your child despite all of these measures continues to present symptoms of consult your local Child Psychiatrist to evaluate your child. Anxiety symptoms are nightmares, difficulties sleeping, unable to stay alone, crying when the parents leave or requiring constant reassurance.