My tendency is to always look on the bright side. In my personal life, I naturally see the positive and maintain an optimistic attitude. In my coaching practice, I help girls find their silver linings and connect with the valuable lessons that they can learn from challenging situations. But the current crisis in Ukraine has made it hard for me to see the light. My heart is hurting for the thousands fleeing their country, especially for the children who are being affected by the sudden violence and destruction. I am in awe of the brave civilians who are taking to the streets to fight for their country and freedom. I am angered and disheartened by the Russian government that started this unnecessary and unprovoked war. And I am questioning what more the world and people like me can do to help.
I am triggered!
And your teen may be triggered too. The stories she’s hearing and images she’s seeing may have sparked fear, worry, and complicated questions. While war is not easy to talk about, you can share the facts. Your teen needs you to be upfront and honest. Also, make sure she is getting information from a reliable source and be willing to discover alongside her. Research and learn about the history and politics that are fueling this crisis.
Most importantly, as she expresses her opinion, investigate it. Ask her open-ended questions, without judgment, that help her clarify her values and her belief system. Demonstrate curiosity and openness. This is an opportunity for her to connect with her core values and beliefs.
In addition, you can start important conversations about topics including:
- Power and responsibility
- Helping others and compassion
- Speaking up and using her voice for good
Share examples of leaders near and far who use their power for good. Highlight those who speak with compassion, make a difference, and stand in their courage and truth.
Look for opportunities where she can get involved in helping others in a way that is comfortable and appropriate for her. Have conversations around how even small actions make a difference. Shortly after the crisis in Ukraine began, one of my long-time friends started a project with her son and daughter. They are painting sunflowers (Ukraine’s national flower) and printing the images on greeting cards, which they will sell. All of the proceeds will be donated to the Choose Love Foundation, which supports Ukrainian families. As a result, their simple actions inspired their community and now other children and teens in their neighborhood are involved.
Remember, during scary and uncertain times, children and teens rely on their parents and caring adults for information, reassurance, and support.