In 2014 the Russian totalitarian regime headed by Vladimir Putin started the first episode of war, occupied Crimea and Easten regions of the country. 8 years after, at 4 am on the 24th of February 2022 our children woke up from the whistling of rockets and sounds of explosions.
Our first reactions were shock, dismay, loss of stabilty and way of life we weere used to. Many families had to leave there homes, people face violence, robbery, live in a constant threat of bombing or under occupation without any rights.
All this definitely influences Ukrainian children. In my practice and among children around me I see:
- feeling of being scattered, agressive or frightened,
- behaving like being “frozen”, disconnected from own emotions,
- chaoticly playing and building “shelters” for their toys and toy cars to keep them safe,
- missing their parents if being separated,
- showing speech problems, mutism, staying mostly silent,
- dreaming about our victory and coming back home,
- admiring Ukrainian worriers and making drawings for them,
- qiuckly getting adult and not smiling any more…
Photos by Reuters
It is necessary to explaine a child that all these are normal reactions to abnormal situation of being attacked by enemies at your own home.
Their stability depends a lot on reactions of parents or caregivers. If they allow children to show emotions, support them and have got the nearest plan, like to get to the shelter, to prepare food, to get some help or information, then children feel more safe, they obtain a limited predictability and permission to feel the whole spectrum of human emotions that we face in a situation of war. This does not mean that parents have to hide their emotions. But try to find something to ground upon: organise your environment in a shelter, less hang over reading disturbing news, whether your crying, playing or laughing with your children try to be 100% there. If you stay on distance, keep contacting in any possible way, in messengers, texting or video calls.
Trauma is caused by the break of everyday routine and stability. Not only by a life threat itself. Try to keep any traditions that you`ve got in your family before the war. This will help you and your children to overcome this difficult period with a belief, hope and strengh to build a new future.
I was lucky to comment the situation around the war in Ukraine and children mental health for several editions. Will leave links here.
Please share with people in your community, support Ukraine and Ukrainians whereever you can. Every re-post and every meeting will make us closer to the victory over rashist evil end stop this genocide of the Ukrainain nation.
Please find more about DyvoGra social enterprise in a situsation of war and how it supports people with speech disabilities using assitive technologies for communication. Read more…
Please feel free to contact me for info or advise about war effects on children and ways to keep mental health in a war situation: