A vicar in Wales has launched an online school assembly to help children who may feel anxious about events in Ukraine.
The video, called 'Let's talk about feelings', was created by Rev Rosemary Hill, a priest in the Diocese of Llandaff. She hopes it will help primary school children process their feelings about the distressing events they see on the news and in newspapers.
As a parent herself, Rosemary noticed that her own children were feeling anxious when watching the news.
She tells Premier that it's been a very difficult time for young people growing up in the pandemic and now witnessing the horror of the conflict in Ukraine:
“I think what the last two years has given us as adults is this atmospheric grief around us, we've been surrounded by news of illness or death, and these children have lived and breathed that for the last two years. Even if they haven't experienced death in their family recently, they will have experienced other effects, mental health effects or loss of jobs and things like that. So there's already a level of stress that they're coping with.
“Over the last week or so, as we watched the events in Ukraine unfold, I noticed my own children asking questions about what is going on in the news. As a parent, I have always approached difficult questions in a child -ed fashion, that is if they're old enough to ask a question then they are old enough to get an answer.
"Often, we think of children, as needing to be sheltered from bad news, death and bad things happening in the world. This is not in itself a bad thing, but children are very perceptive and easily pick up on things. Sometimes if the adults are not talking about it to them it may feel like they can't then ask the questions that are bothering them."
Rev Rosemary believes we shouldn't shy away from talking to children about difficult subjects that are in the news. Often it's adults who find it difficult to talk to children in a way that doesn't create more anxiety.
She adds, "Church and school assembly provision for young children tends to be entertaining, light and can sometimes avoid difficult subjects. Those difficult subjects are usually difficult for us as adults to approach rather than difficult for the children to understand. They just need to be pitched at the correct level. In assemblies and children's worship, I have found young children to be perceptive and quite sophisticated in their grasp of complicated ideas.
"When I led this assembly in the local primary school, I asked children to name things that were worrying them. Answers ranged from the war in Ukraine to starting comprehensive school through to the rising cost of Freddo chocolate bars and disappointingly hollow easter eggs when you're expecting them to be full of Smarties!”
Rev Rosemary says the assembly can be paused to allow for the teacher or adult leading it to encourage interaction and discussion :
"With this assembly, I want to give space to children to be able to voice concerns in an age-appropriate way without being patronising. It's important that we allow children to take the lead in discussions and feel safe in voicing their concerns."
'Let’s talk about feelings' is available on the Diocese of Llandaff YouTube Channel https://youtu.be/KRrQAioYOgI