On the eve of Victory Day, moms and dads naturally have a question: how to properly tell children about World War II? And should it be done at all? Psychologists agree that it is necessary to talk about war with a child. However, the approach should be correct, depending on age. Let’s figure it out together.
Why is it important to discuss the topic of war with children?
Many parents believe that the topic of war with a child is absolutely not worth raising. Others, on the contrary, involve children in “cheers-patriotism”, dressing up the child in a military uniform and sticking another “Thank you grandfather for the victory!” on the car. At the same time, not everyone remembers the need to tell their children about what war is. Some moms and dads even descend into excessive realism, discussing concentration camps, death and details of torture. Different people express their attitude to the Victory in different ways, and this is normal.
It is important for children to talk about the war, but always according to their age and their psychological state. Firstly, in this way parents will be able to protect the child from unnecessary fears, and secondly, they will form an attentive and wise attitude towards this topic.
We have compiled ideas for you on how to talk about World War II with children of all ages.
Preschoolers (3-6 years old)
Experts believe that it makes no sense to talk about the war with a child before three years. The first questions begin to appear at the age of 3-4 years, when the child actively develops speech and interest in everything that happens around. It is logical that a kid who sees a tank or a St. George ribbon for the first time will ask what it is, or ask whose grandmother it is with flowers and medals flaunting on an old black and white portrait.
Of course, the child should not be devoted to the bloody details of the past war. The task of the parent is to present the information in a way that explains, not scares, especially if the children are very sensitive or anxious.
Think in advance about what you will say, in what tone, in what order. Maybe it will be important for you to tell about a grandfather or great-grandfather who went missing, but your whole family keeps his memory. Maybe about my grandmother’s sister, who pulled wounded soldiers from the battlefield and helped write letters to relatives from the hospital. Every family has its own story.
You can start the story like this:Many years ago our grandmothers and great-grandmothers, grandfathers and great-grandfathers lived peacefully on their land. But people came who decided to drive them away and take the land for themselves. Of course, grandparents did not want to leave, but decided to join the battle and defend their land. The invaders tried to drive the grandparents away with weapons and equipment, but our ancestors managed to fight back. This war lasted more than four years and covered a lot of different countries, but still ended in a long-awaited peace, although it was extremely hard to get«.
There is no need to try to save the preschooler from experiences by moving away from these topics and fencing them off. Pain and compassion are also feelings that are important to experience. Besides, the modern world is not the safest place. Wars exist and it is important to be ready to speak on a variety of topics.
If your child begins to worry and worry about whether the war will start right tomorrow, ask about his and your safety, be sure to reassure him and assure him that right now neither he nor your family is in danger.
If the baby has more questions, then it will be possible to satisfy his curiosity by going to some thematic museum or leafing through an encyclopedia appropriate for his age. Watching films about the war is better to postpone — for preschoolers, they can be traumatic, scary and incomprehensible.
Junior students (7-11 years old)
But younger students can already be gradually introduced to the cinema about the war. Even if the child is not yet very aware of the Second World War and the Great Patriotic War, then at school they will certainly introduce him to this event, but sometimes not at all in the form in which moms and dads would like.
It is not at all necessary to immediately show the child the heartbreaking chronicles from Auschwitz or complex films in the style of «The Living and the Dead» or «The Dawns Here Are Quiet» — due to their age, they are still difficult for children to perceive.
You can show films that are age-appropriate and reveal some of the ideas of the Great Patriotic War: “Two Fyodors”, “A girl is looking for a father”, “A brave bullet is afraid, or a Mishka takes a fight”, “Alexander Malyny”, “Son of a regiment”, “Sit next to me, Bear», «Eaglet», «Trubachev’s detachment is fighting», «Winter morning», «Five brave», «Fourth height». Be sure to talk to the children about their impressions of the film, explain incomprehensible things. And if the child is impressionable or anxious, you can postpone such views. Do not leave children alone with scary thoughts or frightening pictures. Be there.
It is possible and necessary to talk with a child about the events of 75 years ago. Of course, one should not rush into political accusations or cultivate hatred for a particular nation.
The task of mothers and fathers is to explain to the child that life is the greatest value. And no one wants all this to happen again, because it means that many innocent people will die again, there will be hunger and devastation.
You can introduce children to their ancestors who participated in World War II, talk about their contribution to the defense and salvation of the motherland, and show medals. Tell how many people fought for a peaceful sky and how scary it is when there is a war.
Our goal is to preserve the memory of an event that should never happen again. To do this, parents can introduce children to their famous peers of the war years: Tanya Savicheva, Marat Kazei, Valya Kotik, Zoya Kosmodemyanskaya.
Is it worth talking about fascism? Yes, if the child is interested in what it is and why certain “fascist German invaders” are mentioned in various programs. Tell the basic facts about the war, but do not antagonize children against specific nations.
Teenagers (12 and older)
Telling teenagers about World War II is much easier than telling younger children. At the age of 12-13, children can not only discuss the reasons for the outbreak of a military conflict, but also generally talk about the motives, contradictions or prerequisites for this event.
It is very useful, together with a teenager, to draw useful lessons from such conversations: that you need to be able to negotiate, solve problems without the use of violence, and discrimination and nationalism should not exist. You can ask problematic questions to your son or daughter: “Why did ordinary Germans fight for Nazi Germany if they knew they would die, or if they didn’t even share Hitler’s views, what do you think?”
It’s no secret that most often it is teenagers who are passionate about the topic of death — this is a period of self-knowledge associated with the desire to penetrate beyond the understandable and visible. In adolescence, war is often romanticized. They can be shown documentaries about the war and concentration camps, photographs of prisoners. Tell different facts and show different sides of the same event. The picture should be three-dimensional, not black and white. War is more difficult than «ours» and «fascists». Ask questions about what the children would be interested to know or discuss, and be open and honest in the dialogue. By the way, the sensational film «The Boy in the Striped Pajamas» or the book of the same name can become an excellent field for discussion.
It’s also good to watch such films together as “Zhenya, Zhenechka and Katyusha”, “Only old men go into battle”, “Battalions ask for fire” and “They fought for their homeland”. Just do not forget to discuss your impressions together and answer any questions that arise.
Popular children’s questions about the war
Many parents find it difficult to answer difficult questions: where to start? What to finish? What is better not to mention? In fact, each family will have their own story and their own important points that you will want to mention in a conversation with a child.
Explain to your child that there are no simple answers to some questions about war and that different people answer differently at different times. It is important to be able to look at history from different points of view and remember that war is very scary and unfair. No matter what people we are talking about.
Just in case, we have prepared some approximate answers to the most popular questions about the war to help you.
one. Why did the Great Patriotic War happen? Wars often happen because rulers promise citizens that war will solve their life’s problems. For example, that everyone will live well and richly, but for this it will be necessary to seize other people’s lands or hurt someone. The Second World War was unleashed by Adolf Hitler, who believed that people of a different nationality, with a different color of hair, eyes and skin, were to blame for all the problems. He called for getting rid of such people, and when he felt his power and impunity, he decided to attack the USSR and many other countries. Millions of ordinary Germans could not go against the Fuhrer, because they were very afraid of him.
2. «Why were we attacked?» Because in those years the Soviet Union was considered a strong and powerful state, rich in resources (forests, minerals, large lands). Hitler believed that if he defeated the USSR, he would achieve world domination.
3. “Now the Germans are also bad? They were fascists!” No, the Germans are not bad at all. Modern Germans did not fight with our country and with our people, they cannot be responsible for the actions and mistakes of their ancestors. Besides, the word «fascist» has nothing to do with nationality. «Fascist» is a word for a cruel, bloodthirsty person who makes others suffer and knows no moral limits. Many Germans, even during the war, tried to resist Hitler, but their numbers were very small compared to a large army. In addition, they were in constant fear: for disobedience, they and their families were threatened with death.
four. «Why do people celebrate May 9?» To thank those who gave their lives defending their Motherland. The memory of such terrible events must live on so that people understand that any war is painful and scary, and this should not happen again.
If you’re having trouble, turn to books (check your submissions to avoid publications that romanticize violence and military power or those that distort the facts). Be sure to include museums of the Second World War, viewing family photo albums, a demonstration of grandfather’s medals and films about the Patriotic War that show events through the eyes of a child in the familiarization format.