How to talk to children about the war in Ukraine

How to talk to children about the war in Ukraine

We know that many children are feeling worried or upset about the war in Ukraine. They may have heard that homes, schools, and hospitals have been damaged and destroyed, and children and their families have been forced to flee their homes and travel to other countries as refugees. 


Finding a practical way to help those in crisis gives your child the opportunity to do something positive in response to the war in Ukraine. So we’ve partnered with War Child to make it easy for children to make a small donation using their GoHenry card – and we’ll match every donation made using our link, up to a total of £40,000. In addition to our donation match, for every £1 donated to War Child, the Government will AidMatch all personal donations with another £1. That means that a UK child donating £1 will actually give £3 when AidMatch and GoHenry’s donation match have been applied. All public donations will go to War Child's Emergency Fund to support places like Ukraine, Afghanistan, and other conflicts, while matched funding from the UK government will support millions of children in Yemen still in need of critical help. 

"We are delighted to be working with GoHenry and their customers. We know that families are keen to support others in crisis and not only does this enable young people to support our fundraising efforts but it also enables parents to talk to their children about conflict. GoHenry are matching any fundraising up to £40,000 and we would like to thank them for their incredible donation and support."

Dean Anderson, Director of Fundraising and Communications, War Child



It can be hard to know how to talk to your child about the war in Ukraine, especially if they have lots of questions and are asking for reassurance. So if you’re unsure about the best way to tackle the subject, the following tips might help. 

Let your child take the lead

By now, there’s a good chance that your child has heard about the Ukraine conflict at school, seen it on the news, or spotted posts about it on social media. But some younger children may still be totally unaware. If that’s the case, it’s best not to mention the conflict unless they ask about it directly. If you sense that they’re feeling anxious, ask some general questions about school and how they’re feeling so they have the opportunity to tell you about anything that’s bothering them. 

Ask what they know

Through TV news reports and social media, your child may have seen upsetting images, or accessed complex information that they struggle to understand. So if your child asks you a question about Ukraine, begin by asking them what they already know. This is a good way to make sure that you’re not giving them more information than they need, while answering their questions in an age-appropriate way.

Offer a simple explanation

It can be tricky to know how much detail to share when children ask questions about war, so it’s best to keep things simple, especially when talking to children of primary school age. Explain that in some countries, like Ukraine, different people want to be in charge and that has caused some fighting. For children, this can mean that schools are closed, there’s nowhere to play, and it’s not as easy to find food and clean water. This can be scary and confusing. As a result of the fighting, some children and their families may leave their homes to find a safe place to live and work, and that could be in a different village, town, or even country. 

Don’t dismiss children’s worries

It’s hard to know what to say when children express worries about the war in Ukraine, especially as adults don’t have all the answers. So focus on being calm and reassuring, rather than simply changing the subject or telling your child it’s nothing to worry about. It’s important to listen and acknowledge your child’s worries, and they are less likely to feel anxious if they can see that the adults in their lives are staying calm and in control.

Limit access to adult news reports

Newspaper reports, as well as TV and radio news broadcasts, aren’t aimed at children – so it's wise to keep newspapers out of sight and turn off the news when younger children are around. Although these reports can be a good way to start a conversation about the conflict with teenagers, they’re more likely to confuse younger children and the images and video footage could upset them. As an alternative, use trusted resources like Newsround 

to help primary school children understand the facts.

Direct teens to trusted websites

After the events of the last two years, we all know how easy it is to spend time doom-scrolling and reading terrifying first-person accounts on social media. This is a particular issue for teens who have their own devices and social media accounts, and are also at risk of accessing misinformation. To combat this, give teenagers the opportunity to discuss any reports that they see online, and remind them to choose reliable, balanced sources of information such as BBC News. If they feel that they’d like more support, direct them to our charity partner the NSPCC, where they can also discuss their worries on the Childline message boards

Find a way to help

If your child is upset about the situation in Ukraine, it can be helpful to remind them of all the people who are trying to help, and the different ways that they can show their support. 


Children like to help others, so perhaps your child could use their GoHenry card to make a small donation to War Child, which supports children and their families affected by war. Don’t forget, we’ll match every donation made using their GoHenry card, when they donate via our link, up to a total of £40,000 – and the Government will also AidMatch all personal UK donations. 



Alternatively, they could organise an event like a bake sale or sponsored walk to help raise money at school. These are all practical ways to teach children that they can use their money to help others, and their actions can make a difference, while doing something positive to help Ukrainian people.


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Written by Ceri Roberts Published Mar 24, 2022 ● 5 min read