Wellness Wednesday

A New Number for the Behavioral Health Crisis Hotline in New York State

o            988 is the new three-digit number that connects callers with behavioral health crisis counselors.

o            Once it goes live on July 16, 2022, callers who dial 988 will be connected to the National Suicide Prevention Lifeline call centers. This easy-to-remember number will change the way we address behavioral health crises in New York State.

Northwell Health Parent Series


Five Tips for Talking With Kids About What’s Going On in the World

By discussing challenging topics with our children, we can help them practice compassion.


Build understanding by looking beyond the headlines

As a society, we are flooded with news that can feel overwhelming, stressful, and scary. Headlines often limit what we understand to a negative or sensationalistic perspective. Taking time to go beyond the headlines and learn more can build our knowledge and understanding of a topic so that we can feel comfortable talking with children in a way that is developmentally appropriate, as well as clearing up misconceptions.

  • “You told me you were thinking about Ukraine. Can you tell me more about what you were thinking about? Did you talk about Ukraine at school or did you hear something on the news?”
  • “I read more today about Ukraine and I’m ready to talk about it now. Would you like me to tell you what I learned now or later?”

Answer children’s questions honestly

Conversations with caring, trusted adults help children make sense of the world around them. Children are curious and have questions about what they see and hear. As they get older, children and youth will seek out information about topics they don’t understand. They will gain access to many different sources of information, not all of which are safe or trustworthy.

If children feel comfortable asking their questions to the trusted adults in their lives, they are more likely to return to those adults to keep having conversations as they get older. Even if you don’t have an answer to a question, talk together about strategies to look up information from sources you trust, and about what makes a source reliable.

  • “What questions do you have? Did you hear anything that was confusing or scary?”
  • “I don’t know the answer, but I know someone we can talk to who can help us learn more.”
  • “Let’s see what we can find at the library about the history of Ukraine to help us understand.”

Manage emotions and foster resilience

Talking about sad or scary topics like the war in Ukraine may bring up many different emotions for you and for your child. Let them know that all feelings are OK. Help your child express their feelings in healthy ways, such as by talking about them; sharing feelings through stories, artwork, and play; taking a walk; or in other ways.

  • A Loving Space for Kids’ Emotions

    Show love to your children by helping them process emotions

    Try It Now

Share how you are managing your feelings, too, and help your child find strategies that work for them. Helping your child practice and develop skills to manage their stress and emotions through challenging conversations now can foster their resilience for challenges they may face in years ahead.

  • “Talking about war can feel scary and sad. I have those feelings, too.”
  • “Sometimes when I feel scared, I remind myself that I am safe here at home or at school. I ask a friend for a hug. I also think about what I can do to be a helper.”
  • “What do you do when you feel scared or sad?”

Find ways to make a difference

Sometimes what feels most sad or scary are the things outside of our control, such as a war on the other side of the world or hardship or violence in our own communities. Share with your child examples of what people do to help one another and explore what you can do to make a difference in your own community (e.g., donating or volunteering) or in the world (e.g., supporting refugee relief efforts).

  • “What do you think we could do to be helpers?”
  • “What can you do to care for your friends who are feeling scared or sad?”

Focus on humanity

Not every conversation about a challenging topic needs to be about the stressful, harmful, or traumatic parts of a story. Talk with children about the people of Ukraine and the people of Russia. Learn together about the rich histories of each country, the languages spoken, cultural traditions celebrated, food, folktales, music, and more.

Your children will have friends, classmates, and community members now and in the future with diverse identities and from diverse backgrounds. Through these conversations, we can help teach children that the identities and cultural traditions each person carries are just as important to them as yours are to you. Having conversations that focus on humanity, including celebrating what we have in common as well as honoring our differences, allows children to see one another as part of the same global community.

  • “I’m curious to learn more about what going to school is like in Ukraine. What are you curious about?”
  • “What do you notice that’s the same between our family and the one in the story? What do you notice that is different?”
  • “I checked out a book from the library with Slavic children’s stories. How about we read one together at bedtime?”

My daughter and I have now had many conversations about Ukraine. Some of our conversations have focused on the hardship and sadness of war, while others have focused on learning about Ukrainian and Russian people. These are the happy stories we can tell at bedtime. Together, they are all stories that help build understanding and compassion. Most recently, we watched the winning Eurovision video, “Stefania,” from Ukrainian artists Kalush Orchestra, a celebration of music and humanity of the Ukrainian people.

Taking the time to have each of these conversations—from the challenging to the happy and everything in between—has been an important reminder to find the humanity in every story, to be the helpers, and to be part of creating a society where every child is valued and every child belongs.

We are dealing with many stressors, and they take their toll. 

Be kind and compassionate to yourself, and to others around you. 

Reach out and accept the support of your family, friends and colleagues. 

Be well.