How to support a teenager in a crisis

Advices from psychologists to maintain contact with older children

UNICEF
20 July 2022

Adolescents are especially vulnerable during war. They are old enough to know what is happening, but they do not yet have the experience to deal with their emotions and feelings.

❗️Here is some advice from psychologists on how to support your child today:

🔹Speak and listen. Take time and listen carefully to children's stories about how they feel and think. Explain the facts you know and provide children with truthful (and age-appropriate) information about the situation in the country as a whole and your family in particular.

🔹 Allow for emotions. Share your feelings and explain to the child that it is normal to be afraid, worried and cry. However, in the future, it is important to stabilize and disengage from everyday affairs as much as possible.

🔹 Plan for the future. Dream and plan together, discuss with teenagers what you will do as soon as peace is established. Such reflections and conversations inspire and stabilize.

🔹 Hug. Hug your teenager and other family members at least 8 times a day. Tactile communication is crucial in times of uncertainty and stress.

🔹 Watch your favorite movies together. This can be done even in the shelter. Choose life-affirming movies that give hope and discuss what you see. Remind your child that after the darkest night comes the morning.

🔹 Read aloud. Reading out loud together gives a feeling of security and peace. Read a book together that you already know well or a new one that you never got your hands on.

🔹 Praise and emphasize the child's achievements. Point out even minor ones. Instill faith in your teen and offer support.

🔹 Encourage your child to communicate with their peers. For most teens, socializing with friends is very important. Facilitate this, and tell your child how they can support friends who have difficulty coping with their emotions.

🔹 Involve teenagers in helping others. But do it under maximum security conditions. Tell your child how they can help and support others. At the same time, explain to them that their own safety should be prioritized.

🔹 Pay attention to changes in the child's behavior. Seek online counseling from a psychologist if your child's condition is of concern.

Remember ❗️ You are indispensable in a child's life. You are their tower of strength and an island of safety for them. Assuming this role is possible only if you remain mentally stable yourself.