How to take care of a child in a bomb shelter
- Answer all of your child’s questions, even the most difficult ones, honestly and without going into too much detail. Explain that Ukraine is at war, but let them know that our army is fighting back against the enemy. Emphasize on how tough our army is.
- Explain what the air raid siren means: “When you hear the siren go off, it means that our army is nearby, that they have found the source of danger and are fighting it. This means that they are working hard to keep us safe.”
- Let the child know that they are safe. You can use phrases such as “I’m an adult, I’m here to take care of you, I’ll keep you safe”. “We have a plan, I know what we need to do”. “Look, all of these people are together, and our army is there to protect us”.
- Don’t shame the child for being fearful, let them express any emotion they feel. Don’t compare them to others. Instead, try to cheer them up by saying things like “You’re doing so well!” or “You’re my hero!”.
- When heading to a shelter, bring along your child’s toy or other favorite item. You can also grip the child’s hand, ask them to hug you tightly.
- Ask your child to do exercises with you. Any type of physical exercises such as stretches will do. Try to get your child to move their body: play a game of hopscotch, or bounce along in their seat. You can also distract them by letting them play a game on your phone.
- Teenagers may react to stress by distancing themselves, avoiding conversations, spending all of their time on social media and generally ignoring you. This is their way of dealing with tension. You can try helping by asking them to help with a task or by giving them an outlet for their emotions.
- It is important to sing together and give the child the opportunity – through drawing, sculpting, assembling a constructor set – to transform their fear and tension.
- Ask the child to imagine that they, along with their family, hometown and entire country, are under a protective dome shaped like a rainbow. Ask them to visualize a safe space by drawing one or building one out of various craft supplies.
- If the child looks pale, is swaying and doesn’t respond to contact – rub their ears, earlobes, give them some chocolate and sweet black tea, take them in your arms, rock them back and forth, start singing songs that they remember. Call them by their name, say something like, “Mom and Dad are here.” Let them play a game of tetris or darts on your phone (or any other game that uses spatial perception).
- “We’ll get through this, we’ve very strong”.
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