A psychologist explained how to communicate with children during air raid sirens

02.01.23

Children should feel that they are safe – this is the main task for parents and teachers during air raid sirens.

 

In the network of educational centres “Superheroes School”, which work in the largest children’s hospitals, an algorithm of actions was developed together with the psychologist of the “Okhmatdyt” clinic Olena Anoprienko. Teachers and pedagogues should follow this algorithm when the air raid sirens start.

 

First things first, children should be moved to safety, the location of which should be made known to both the children and their parents.

 

Psychologist Olena Anoprienko emphasizes that children should be confident that they are safe. This is important for the prevention of post-traumatic stress disorder.

“The most highly prioritized and most basic need of a child is a sense of security. Therefore, helping children should be aimed at overcoming the consequences of being in a stressful situation, and preventing the development of post-traumatic stress disorders. Therefore, it is very important to teach children to understand what to do during an air raid siren. The first thing is a safe place, which must be clearly defined for both teachers and parents. If there is no shelter, then a safe place can be arranged where there are two walls, and the child must know exactly what to do when the air raid siren sounds. The child must understand that they are in a safe place. You should always say that “this is a secure place that will help us stay safe”. The child must know that when the air raid siren is over, they will leave this space. In real-life situations, we can see that children prefer to be near their parents in a safe place,” says psychologist Olena Anoprienko.

 

It is very important during the air raid siren to steer the children’s attention away from anxiety and danger – play games with the children and direct their imagination towards positive thinking. Having fun with children also relieves parents of anxiety.

 

“When parents also know exactly what to do, they are less anxious and can talk with their children, they can simply play, draw, sing, and do mobility exercises. Singing together also helps to normalize the emotional state, because there is a regular inhale followed by an exhale. Singing and playing together also make time pass faster.

Teachers should also come up with various options for the child to spend their time. One of the options for spending time, for example, can be an exercise – a safe island. Each child can imagine what kind of island it is, who is there next to them, and what they are doing on this island. Simply come up with games that encourage children to develop their imagination. You can draw or even craft a safe island. Ask what the weather is like on this island, what season it is. You can draw it alongside the child, and then show the result to each other. All these actions will help the child normalize their emotional state faster and be less anxious,” says psychologist Olena Anoprienko.

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