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Parental Support During War: Understanding Children's Emotional Reactions to Stress

Psychological support during the war

With the beginning of the full-scale invasion of Russia on the territory of Ukraine, many families faced psychological pressure. In particular, children are the most vulnerable to its influence. The youngest Ukrainians very strongly take over the emotional state of their relatives or those with whom they find themselves in the same environment. According to sociological research, children today are divided into two groups: those who have grown up very quickly and those who have withdrawn into themselves and need even more care. And this is a normal reaction of children to stress. At the same time, it is worth noting that they pick up emotions from their parents. So here, parents need to follow the rule of behavior on board the plane during an emergency: put the oxygen mask on themselves first, then help the children.

Psychological Impact of War on Children

According to psychologist and CBT consultant Inna Bukhanevich, adults and children experience a series of emotional jumps during one day. At first, there is a feeling of shock and denial of reality—subsequent - euphoria and elation, provoked by the unity of society. At the same time, such changes in emotions are exhausting for the body; in particular, children suffer the most from this. After all, being in a state of shock and, most likely, moving around the country or beyond its borders provokes apathy and various psychological injuries.

Normal Reaction of Children

The youngest Ukrainians can withdraw into themselves so much that they stop talking or interacting with the outside world in any way. That is why parents have another task - to constantly talk to their children about how they feel, what worries them, and what they think about this or that situation. During such conversations, parents and children should have continuous eye contact. In addition, mothers and fathers should talk to their offspring about their emotional states to explain that positive and negative emotions have a place to be. It is usual for adults and children to fluctuate between inspiration and depression, but this needs to be discussed with each family member. All outbursts of emotion, from positive to negative, are a NORMAL response to an abnormal situation.

According to the recommendation of a psychologist, to help children in times of depression, it is also worth reviewing their emotional state, which adults broadcast.

Remember what is important to you and what are your life values. It could be family care, professional development, helping others, or creating beauty.

Think about what is valuable to you and what always remains with you [mother, cat, appearance].

Parental Support

These values ​​will point to the way which should be followed. If health is important, go for a walk or exercise. If it is essential to create, sit down to draw, embroider, and write poems. Social interaction is significant, so involve children in all these processes now.

Review Emotional State

Also, when talking with children, you can use the questions from the Gallup Institute survey, according to which method the global charity index is measured:

  • Did you rest well yesterday?

  • Were you treated with respect all day yesterday?

  • Did you smile or laugh enough yesterday?

  • Did you learn or do something interesting yesterday?

  • What emotions did you feel yesterday, or did you feel comfortable?

With the help of these questions, parents will understand their children more and better, provide them with the support needed at this very moment, and show that they care. This way, children will open up more and talk about their experiences.

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