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How To Teach Children About Russian Invasion Of Ukraine

BOSTON (CBS) – After nearly two years of enduring a pandemic, children are now processing the news surrounding the Russian invasion of Ukraine. It is a difficult topic that experts say parents should help their children understand at age appropriate levels.

That is why Rachel Metcalf, a social studies teacher at Saint John School in Wellesley brought up the topic among her 5th and 6th grade students.

"I'll answer the questions to the best of my ability and then I tell them to make sure that they are aware of the sources they are digesting," Metcalf said. "I'll answer the questions to the best of my ability and then I tell them to make sure that they are aware of the sources they are digesting."

Metcalf said she wants to give context to her students who may be getting their information from TikTok or other forms of social media. She also wants them to know they are not alone in their concerns.

"I can tell by the looks on some of their faces that they have concerns and I want to share with them that it's natural and normal to have concerns," she said.

Related: How To Help The People Of Ukraine

Dr. Chase Samsel, a psychiatrist at Boston Children's Hospital says parents and caregivers should be willing to have honest conversations about the invasion of Ukraine with their children.

"Young kids often personalize things for themselves. So, if something is happening in the world, 'Is this happening to me? Is this happening to my parent? Is this happening to my sibling?'" he said.

He also said that graphic imagery can be damaging to children, especially for kids under the age of five. He said we all need to be thoughtful about kids who may have experienced loss or grief during the pandemic. The images of war could be particularly painful to them.

"They might be even more vulnerable and even more distressed by some of the images and worries about safety," he said.

Saint John School is holding a collection of medical supplies to be flown to Ukraine. Samsel said that kind of positive action can also help ease anxiety.

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