We listen to a lot of NPR in our house. When we started hearing the news from Ukraine two weeks ago, my 7-year-old wanted to know why people had to leave their homes. We explained, in basic terms, what was going on. We pointed out Ukraine on the big world map. We assured her that we’re safe here. She moved on quickly. But I’m sure she has more questions.
Which is why I was excited to listen to the latest episode of But Why: A Podcast for Curious Kids. It’s built around real questions that real children have called in to ask about the war in Ukraine. And it’s really good.
Host Jane Lindholm (who happens to be an Addison County mom of two young kids) interviews Erin Hutchinson, a professor at the University of Colorado Boulder, who studies the history of both Russia and Ukraine. She explains the origins of the war in terms most kids can understand, but she doesn’t dumb it down. She addresses the gravity of the situation without getting into the scary details of what’s happening on the ground.
She and Lindholm answer questions from kids such as “Why is Russia attacking Ukraine?” (Jedi, 10), “Why doesn’t Ukraine have a big army?” (Henry, 9), “Why does Russia think it’s doing the right thing?” (Dylan, 8), and “Why do some people do bad things?” (Emmaline, 4 and a half).
Here’s the podcast. Even if you listen to it without your kids, as I did, it might give you some ideas about how to approach the topic with them.
And here’s some good advice Lindholm gave to her kid listeners at the end:
“If you want to know more about what is happening in Europe right now, you should ask the adults in your life to help you find accurate and non-scary information. We have links to good news sources for kids in our show notes for this episode and on our website. Ask your adults to help check them out with you.
“If you have access to social media, things like Facebook, TikTok, Instagram, Twitter, it’s important to know that sometimes the videos and pictures you might see are not real or are not what the people who are posting them say they are. In wars like this, sometimes people use social media to try to spread a message to try to get people on their side. So it’s important to find sources you can trust and not share information that might not be correct.
“And another thing: If hearing the news is making you anxious, you can ask the adults around you not to watch or listen to the news when you’re around and not to have conversations about it while you’re in the room. It’s okay to take a break from the news. That goes for adults, too.”