War and the flood of news

How to talk to children about war and make them feel safe

  • MLL parents’ evening model for lower and upper comprehensive school
  • Class plan for grades 4–9

The war in Ukraine is a human catastrophe that upsets both children and adults. The images and stories on social media and in the news bring the war close. Ukrainian children also post images of their distress on TikTok, for example. Children can be exposed to horrific war images against their will, and the images can cause confusion, anxiety and fear. That is why it is important to give children time and space to talk about the war and the related flood of news in a way that is appropriate for their age and circumstances. Children have the right to obtain information and the right to feel safe.

Some of the children living in Finland come from countries that are currently at war, and following the media can cause flashbacks of traumatic experiences. Some children have relatives and friends in Ukraine and in Russia. There are many children of Russian descent living in Finland who have contacted the MLL Child and Youth Helpline and chat to say that they have experienced bullying or discrimination because of the war. Some of the children have not dared to go to school. Adults now have a big responsibility to ensure the wellbeing and safety of all children. It is therefore important for parents and teachers to discuss ways to make children feel safe and believe in the future.

The purpose of the parents’ workshop is to discuss

  • how to talk to children about the war while building their sense of safety
  • how to behave so that the news and the disinformation in the media and on social media do not harm children
  • how can schools and homes work together to make sure that nobody experiences bullying or discrimination because of their background.

Organizing the parents’ workshop

  • The teacher(s) is/are present during the discussion of the parents’ workshop; if the parents’ workshop is for the whole school, the principal and school welfare staff are also asked to attend.
  • The event lasts for about 1.5–2 h.
  • Parents’ workshops are offered particularly to regions/schools where there are many children of Russian descent / refugees.

MLL parents’ workshop model:

How to deal with the war and the flood of news with children

Notes to the slides of the parents’ workshop model

MLL lesson plan

MLL has compiled a lesson plan for grades 4–9. The plan can also be used in youth work and hobby activities.

Objectives of the lesson plan

  • create a safe space
  • process the emotions evoked by the news coverage and social media
  • develop source criticism
  • interfere with bullying and discrimination.

The lesson plan is meant for schools and others working in education, teaching and the youth sector. The lesson plan can also be applied in hobby activities. The materials can be modified and adapted to suit various groups by having participants complete individual assignments or discussion exercises or by showing only some of the slides.

The objective of the MLL lesson plan is to address the thoughts and feelings evoked by the war in class. The lesson plan consists of a series of slides and participatory assignments.

MLL lesson plan: War and the flood of news slides

MLL lesson plan participatory assignments

Printable emotion emojis for the lesson plan

Watch the video: Children, Youths and the Flood of news. It´s difficult nowadays to avoid the flood of news around the world even if you are a small child. Media Expert Rauna Rahja from Mannerheim Child Welfare explains how to speak to a child and young person about frightening, confusing, and distressing news and when is a good time to avoid time online, and how adults can calm and make a safe environment for a child and youth.

 

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