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Worrying About War – for Kids

For a few years now, wars have been in the news for kids in the United States. In both Iraq and Afghanistan, U.S. soldiers have been fighting. Kids may hear about this on TV, the radio, and in the newspaper, or they may hear adults or kids talking about it. Talk of war can be scary, upsetting, and confusing.

Some kids have parents, relatives, or neighbors who are in the military. Kids may be proud to know someone serving in the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force, or Coast Guard. They can be worried, too — especially if someone they care about is serving in a war or might be going to a place where there’s fighting.

A war zone is a dangerous place, so some worry is normal. Too much worry might cause a stomachache, scary dreams, or make it hard to pay attention in school.

If you are worried, scared, or confused, it’s important to talk to a parent, teacher, or counselor. Having someone to talk to can make a kid feel better. Grownups also can teach kids what they can do to help themselves feel better.

Here are some suggestions for kids who feel worried:

  • Ask your parents to explain what’s going on. Scary things are even scarier when you don’t understand them. It’s easy for kids to get confused about what they hear adults discussing.
  • Talk to an adult. Tell a parent or a teacher how you’re feeling and what you’re worried about.
  • Draw a picture. Show what you’re thinking about and how it makes you feel. If you want to, show it to a parent or teacher.
  • Write a story. Or write in a journal about how you feel or what you think. Writing about a worry or fear can help you feel much better.
  • Write a letter. Writing to someone in the military can help you feel better — and that person will enjoy getting your letters.
  • Take it easy on the TV. Pictures and stories you see about war may be hard to understand and watch. Seeing those pictures over and over again can make you feel worse.
  • Do your normal activities or get involved with other things, whether it’s riding your bike, playing with your friends, reading books, or doing homework.
  • Share extra time with the adults who care about you. Snuggling up with a parent or grandparent, or reading a story together, can help you feel protected and loved.

Reviewed by: D’Arcy Lyness, PhD
Date reviewed: January 2012