How to talk to your children about ANZAC Day

With everything that is going on in our world today, how can we address the questions that our children might have about ANZAC Day?

While Australia and New Zealand’s national day of commemoration recognises the service of defence personnel, both past and present, answering children’s questions about war can be tricky, especially in times like these.

Kids First Children’s Services’ psychology team shares these tips in the hope that they will help your family to talk about ANZAC Day in a positive way.

How to talk to your kids about ANZAC Day

Keep conversations age-appropriate

Like many parents, you probably want to tell your children the truth, but also want to be mindful that the information you give them doesn’t erode their sense of safety in their world.

While young children aged 4 to 8 might have great questions about ANZAC Day, make sure that the answers you give match their emotional and intellectual maturity.

There’s no need to focus on the idea of ‘war’, but instead, think about ‘the Spirit of the ANZACs.’ Your children are likely to respond well to conversations about things like mateship, courage, and teamwork.

Gauge your child’s reactions

As you chat with your children about ANZAC Day, take care to gauge how they are managing this information. The last thing you want to do is cause or increase any feelings of anxiety.

If your children are very worried about the topic of war, keep your conversations to events that have happened in the past and emphasise the idea that Australia is a safe country now.

If your child is sensitive, the details of death and destruction that sometimes accompanies media reports about ANZAC Day are probably not helpful at the moment.

You can be selective about the information that your child is exposed to in the lead-up to ANZAC Day and always postpone these conversations until your child is older or better equipped to think about topics that evoke big feelings.

Talking to children about ANZAC Day

Keep Anzac Day Simple

  • Encourage thoughts about ANZAC qualities like courage, mateship, and sacrifice

  • Talk about the freedom we have to feel safe because of the sacrifice of others

  • Talk about caring for each other and the world as a whole

  • Let your children ask the questions, be open to their ideas on what they think ANZAC Day was about and guide them gently to the truth

  • Numbers can be overwhelming, especially for school-aged children who learn how many soldiers lost their lives. Follow this sad fact with the reinforcement of what others have done (and still do!) to keep our country safe. Their sacrifice is one of the reasons we live in such a peaceful place today, and so we can be thankful to them.

  • For older children, a dawn service or city parade may also be appropriate so that your kids get a sense of community and the opportunity to show their support for others.
Psychology and Counselling for families and children at Kids First Brookvale

Helping kids manage their feelings

If your child is troubled by the things they see going on in the world, a member of Kids First’s psychology team may be able to help.

Kids First Children’s Services is located on Sydney’ northern beaches and our experienced psychologists and counsellors often support anxious children as they learn to become braver problem solvers.

Contact us on 9938 5419 to chat about your child’s needs.

We’re here to support you and your child - no matter what.

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