Toddler sad about war
May 29, 2016 4:18 PM   Subscribe

Looking for a way to show my toddler Mr. Roger's Neighborhood Episode 1525, or something similar.

My toddler overheard a conversation about war, and became very sad when we explained roughly what "war" means. He's brought it up over and over again over the last week, and we wanted to find something to help him come to terms with it.

Mr. Rogers' Neighborhood Episode 1525 (description here and here) seems like it's spot on, but apparently it was removed from everything everywhere because it was deemed too dark for children.

Does anyone know how to access this episode, or something else that might help my toddler sort out his feelings about people fighting?
posted by Salvor Hardin to Education (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
PS: He also has expressed particular sadness at the idea that children might be hurt in war, or might get sick and not have medicine, or be hungry without enough food. We had him help us start a monthly donation to a charity called "Save the Children", but I think it was too abstract to really help him. Any resources that might address that particular issue are welcome too.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 4:59 PM on May 29, 2016


Could you clarify what age you are talking about? (I think of a toddler as being just two or three years old, at most.)
posted by merejane at 5:03 PM on May 29, 2016 [2 favorites]




He's 2.5, but verbally pretty precocious.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 5:58 PM on May 29, 2016


This book might be a helpful perspective, though it's intended for slightly older kids, so preview it first. Eve Bunting Gleam and Glow
posted by metasarah at 6:14 PM on May 29, 2016


You can find out if there's a copy of the DVD at a library near you.
posted by SisterHavana at 6:15 PM on May 29, 2016 [3 favorites]


Your precocious toddler might like The Little Giant: a little giant and a giant dwarf from warring tribes meet and become friends because they are exactly alike, and then help their tribes make peace. Certain kids I've known were crazy about this book.
posted by maggiemaggie at 6:27 PM on May 29, 2016


PS: He also has expressed particular sadness at the idea that children might be hurt in war, or might get sick and not have medicine, or be hungry without enough food. We had him help us start a monthly donation to a charity called "Save the Children", but I think it was too abstract to really help him. Any resources that might address that particular issue are welcome too.

Could he help you shop for your local food bank? That would be fairly concrete. You could explain that they give food to people (including children) who need it, maybe without getting into the concepts of local food scarcity.
posted by lazuli at 9:00 PM on May 29, 2016


He doesn't need to understand this or cope with it, because he cant. He needs to avoid it. You should basically try to gaslight him into thinking that there isn't an actual problem.

Example: "You sound worried about kids getting medicine. That's a grownup worry, for grownups like mom and dad. Grownups always make sure that kids are safe. If a kid doesn't have medicine, a grownup will go to the store and get it for him! If you didn't have medicine, I would just go to the store!"

Don't put him in a "helping" role or suggest that he is responsible for "helping" people in this situation. It will encourage him to feel responsible and to worry about it. You want to do the opposite: make it crystal clear that it's not his problem, and that he does not have to think about it or anything related to it.

Next time he asks about something like that, say something like "I don't know, that was a funny thing to say" and then move on. Save the honesty for things that he can't avoid.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 9:11 PM on May 29, 2016 [15 favorites]


I agree with internet fraud detective. Despite your child's precocious verbal skills, his cognitive abilities are not yet to a level where he can understand his role in the world. Right now all he needs to know is that he is safe and it is up to the grownups to deal with grownup problems. Of course you should be teaching him age-appropriate lessons in compassion and empathy, like sharing his toys and being gentle with pets, but intense conceptual stuff like war should wait.
posted by Meg_Murry at 7:25 AM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


The only clip online I can find is a poor quality segment from the introduction and closing of episode you mention, which doesn't include the story which would be most useful.

Searching WorldCat turned up hits for episodes 1521 and 1524 at the University of Pittsburgh library, which are also part of the Conflict series. If you're not near the University of Pittsburgh, you may be able to request them at your local library via interlibrary loan.

I think that attempting to gaslight your child would be ineffective and counterproductive. He may be too young to fully understand the issues, but he's not too young to understand when you're being dishonest with him. I think Fred Rogers would advise validation of his feelings, emphasizing that you love him and will keep him safe, and that you agree with and are proud of his concern for other children.

Best of luck to you.
posted by biogeo at 8:11 AM on May 30, 2016 [2 favorites]


I think there's a reasonable middle ground between gaslighting and putting too heavy a weight on too young a child's shoulders. ifds,sn9 is right that telling him it's his job to help children in war-torn areas has the potential to backfire and compound problems: it makes it his job to fix something he cannot fix, and that even you cannot fix. I think emphasizing that there are many grown-up helpers who do everything they can to keep children safe is fine. You can do that without outright lying to him, and while emphasizing that he is safe, that he'll always have food and medicine. "Yes, but" can be very validating. "Yes, it's sad that not all the helpers can help all of the children. But you are very safe with us and we will always help you. There is no war here. It is okay to be sad about war sometimes. But we love you very much and are so happy we live in a place with a lot of food and medicine."

I think, with a young child with anxiety, too, it's also important not to let them dwell too much. After you've had a few conversations about it, acknowledge feelings, and then distract by giving the child something concrete or physical to do. "Yes, I know it's very sad. Let's go for a walk and get some fresh air." or "It is scary to think about. Can you mix these cupcakes for me? I'll put some music on." Something like that.
posted by PhoBWanKenobi at 8:56 AM on May 30, 2016 [4 favorites]


You're biting off more than you can chew by trying to get a 2-year-old to come to accept the fact that there is war and that children suffer and die in war. I'm in my 30s and I don't accept that.

I remember seeing a group of adults talk about the possibility of nuclear war between Pakistan and India (when tensions between the two nuclear powers were flaring last decade), and a young child nearby (about 7 years old) suddenly seemed very worried and nervous. One of the adults said: "Don't worry, that isn't going to happen in America." The kid instantly seemed completely relieved. That was all he needed to hear. It's pretty simple.

Focus on assuring him that war isn't going to happen in our country, and it isn't going to happen to him or his family or anyone he knows. He's safe and he doesn't need to worry about war.

Of course, that's all very parochial, but that's what a 2-year-old who's afraid of war needs to know. He'll learn about war in depth later on, in school.
posted by John Cohen at 9:01 AM on May 30, 2016 [1 favorite]


It doesn't deal directly with this situation, but you may want to check out Trauma-Proofing Your Kids: A Parents' Guide for Instilling Confidence, Joy and Resilience for extra suggestions and skills for building overall resilience. Some of the suggested exercises might still help.
posted by lazuli at 9:17 AM on May 30, 2016


He may be too young to fully understand the issues, but he's not too young to understand when you're being dishonest with him.

Yeah, he totally is. You can tell a 2.5 year old that the moon is a sock and that their hair grows when they eat asparagus and they will totally believe you. They are very credulous at this age. That's why he's upset about something that he has absolutely zero evidence of, besides hearing about it from his parents.

He's going to believe whatever you tell him as long as you tell him repeatedly and confidently. Use that to his advantage while you still can. In about a year he would be telling you you're an idiot for saying that kids aren't safe, because he's safe, duh. He's doesn't have the ability to protect himself from distressing information yet, so you have to do it for him.
posted by internet fraud detective squad, station number 9 at 1:19 PM on May 30, 2016 [3 favorites]


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