Mental health experts say you should talk with your children about invasion of Ukraine

The invasion in Ukraine is important to talk about with your children, according to mental health experts.

We want to protect our kids and shelter them away from violence, hatred, and war, but you could be actually harming them by doing just that.

RELATED: Sugar Land couple living in Ukraine, opens home to dozens of refugees fleeing Russian attacks

Nichole Vander Veer recently talked to her three young kids about war because she says it was unavoidable.

"I think we were just so shocked by what was going on that my husband and I just turned on the news, and they were in the kitchen, so they happened to see it," she said. "We just give them the facts about what is going. There is another part of the world and two places are not getting along with each other. We try to put it in their words, but we do not sugar coat it for them."

RELATED: US leaders show Ukraine support by wearing blue and yellow at State of the Union

Surprisingly to some that is the healthiest option, according to many mental health experts like Dr. Marni Axelrad, who is a child psychologist at Texas Children's Hospital.

"With younger kids, the best approach is often to answer the questions that are asked and validate feelings. Not necessarily give a lot of information," she said. "Sometimes with the best of intentions, we invalidate children’s feelings by saying that’s silly, you don’t need to feel that way. Perhaps but they do feel that way, so being able to validate yes you feel that way, and I can only imagine how the mommies there feel, here’s how I feel."


Dr. Axelrad said, "Having parents shut it down isn’t helpful. Then it does send a message for the future, that when your child is distressed, or doesn’t understand when something is happening, that they aren’t going to get a response from their parents, so they might as well not try."

Resources to find out how to talk to children about war:

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network
How to talk to your children about conflict and war