Mental health expert discusses ways to talk to your child about the war in Ukraine

APTOPIX Russia Ukraine War
Russia Ukraine War
Posted at 4:12 PM, Mar 15, 2022
and last updated 2022-03-15 17:23:38-04

TAMPA, Fla. — Over the last few weeks, we've witnessed the reality of war with Russia killing innocent civilians in Ukraine and invading their country.

Processing this global unrest can be difficult for adults but even more challenging for children.

So how do we approach this topic with our kids?

"I think we have to understand how devastating this is for kids. This is taking their video games and making them real life. They don't have a psychology for what they're seeing," explained Dr. John Delony, who's a mental health and wellness expert.

Delony recommends having age-appropriate conversations with your child and starting with a question, not a lecture.

"Our tendency is to launch out here and to start giving advice and start talking, talking, talking, talking. I think the really important thing to do is ask your kids what they know and what they've seen what they've heard? And just listen," he explained.

And parents need to be responsible for their own behavior, reacting in a calm manner and leading by example.

"We are modeling what a healthy response to grief and fear and terror looks like to our children. They're watching everything we do. And so let's use this as a great moment to heal and to teach them healthy behavior moving forward," he said.

The horrific pictures and videos of the war spread all over social media are being viewed by young kids and teenagers, which can be damaging since their pre-frontal cortex, the rational part of the brain, is still not fully developed, Delony said.

So he recommends when having that hard conversation with your child, 'share but don't scare.'

"The goal here isn't to rant and rave about your thoughts of the president and the world. And our kids cannot carry that weight. I'm going to share what's going on and be honest with them. I'm going to let them know that I'm in the middle of this too with them. But I'm not going to go into the gory details just to satisfy some innate desire in myself to sound tough or sound you know, I'm telling them the truth. They can't handle that at this point at this moment. So share but don't scare." he repeated.

Delony also recommends volunteering with your child as it can help them feel like they have a role to play in taking care of their own community, which can give them purpose during this uncertain time.

Doctor John Delony is a national best-selling author and has a new book called 'Own Your Past, Change Your Future.'

For more information on his book,

He also hosts a mental health call-in show. To watch, visit