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Nurturing compassion: How to talk to children about the violence in Israel and Gaza

Nurturing compassion: How to talk to children about the violence in Israel and Gaza
PHOTO: Reuters file

With the information being easily accessible to them, children are inevitably exposed to events and issues that can be difficult to understand and process. The recent violence in Israel and Gaza is one such issue. This raises questions and concerns for children and parents alike. As adults, it's our responsibility to guide children through these challenging conversations with empathy, compassion, and age-appropriate information.

1. Understand the age-appropriateness

Consider your child's age and developmental stage when broaching the topic. Younger children may not be able to grasp the nuances of the conflict, so it's best to provide simple explanations. Older kids can handle more complex discussions, but be prepared to answer their questions.

2. Initiate the conversation

It's essential to be the one to bring up the topic, as children may have already heard about the violence from various sources. Start by asking if they've heard anything about the situation and then move on to share the information you believe is suitable for their age.

3. Provide a historical context

Explain that the conflict has deep historical roots, involving different groups of people with differing perspectives and experiences. Present a simplified version of the history, so they understand it's not a recent issue.

4. Emphasise empathy

Encourage your child to empathise with the people affected by the violence on both sides. Share stories of ordinary individuals living in the region, highlighting their common experiences and desires for peace and safety.

5. Avoid blame games

Be careful not to assign blame or take sides, as this can further polarise the conversation. Emphasise the importance of dialogue and peaceful solutions.

6. Answer questions honestly

Children may ask difficult questions. Answer them honestly but without going into gruesome details. Focus on the broader context and the impact of violence on individuals and communities.

7. Use age-appropriate resources

There are books, videos, and documentaries created specifically for children to help them understand complex issues like this. Utilise these resources to supplement your conversation.

8. Reassure safety

Ensure your child that they are safe, and their immediate surroundings are secure. Help them understand that while conflict exists in some parts of the world, many people are working towards peace.

9. Encourage critical thinking

Teach children to think critically about what they hear or read. Discuss the importance of reliable news sources and help them differentiate between facts and opinions.

10. Promote peace and compassion

Conclude the conversation by emphasising the importance of peace, understanding, and compassion. Encourage your child to consider ways they can contribute to a more peaceful world, even in small ways.

11. Maintain open communication

Let your child know they can always come to you with questions or concerns. Revisit the topic periodically to check their understanding and provide updates.

Navigating conversations about the violence in Israel and Gaza with children is a complex and sensitive task. Still, it is essential for their understanding of the world and their development as empathetic individuals.

We can foster compassion and understanding in the next generation by approaching these discussions with empathy, honesty, and age-appropriate information.

It is crucial to emphasise the importance of peace, tolerance, and empathy in resolving conflicts. Children can learn from a young age that violence is not the solution and that peaceful dialogue and understanding should be encouraged.

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This article was first published in theAsianparent.

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