How to talk with your kids about the Syrian refugee crisis

You want to raise your children to be caring, global citizens who are compassionate toward those in need. But how do you talk with your children about a situation like the Syrian refugee crisis?

Stories in the news show Syrian children who’ve endured tragic loss, and terrifying violence. Experts widely agree that parents should shield young children from violent and disturbing news. But how can you explain the crisis in age-appropriate terms, and help them become informed and empowered to help?

Talking to your children about the Syrian refugee crisis:

Step #1: Do a little research

You don’t have to have all the answers, but make sure you’re informed. The better you understand the situation, the better you’ll be able to explain it in ways that are appropriate for you child. Check out our FAQs about the Syrian refugee crisis, and this refugee mom’s to-do list photo essay as a starting point.

Step #2: Find out what they know, then explain

  • Start with a baseline by asking your kids an open-ended question. Something like: “What do you know about Syrian refugees?” Then, follow up with something like: “Why do you think so many Syrian families had to leave their homes?” Your kids might know more than you think, or they might have heard something inaccurate.
  • Use kid-friendly words and examples to explain what’s going on, but keep it simple. Try something like: “Different groups of people want to be in charge. The fighting has ruined homes and schools and roads and, it’s not safe for families to stay.” Explore this kid-friendly photo essay together to learn what life is like for Syrian kids living in a refugee camp in Lebanon.

Step #3: Help your kids feel safe

Help your children know they’re safe. For example, if they are concerned that they might have to leave their home and become refugees, explain how we don’t have the same the political problems that are causing the violence in Syria. This is also a great time to pray together, give fears to God, and ask for comfort and protection. You could also teach your child Psalm 23:4, “Even though I walk through the darkest valley, I will fear no evil, for You are with me.” (NIV).

Step #4: Pray for refugees together

Prayer is a great way to teach your children how to intercede on behalf of those in need. Pray together for Syrian refugee children. Here’s a sample prayer to get you started:

Dear Lord, Psalm 46:9 says that You “make wars cease to the ends of the earth.” Help the people who are fighting with each other in Syria to stop, so children and families can go home and have peace and safety. Lord, we trust in You.

Step #5: Let them do something to help

On his show, Mister Rogers told a story that when scary things came on the news, his mother would tell him to “Look for the helpers. You can always find people helping.” Encourage your children that they can be helpers too. See if your kids might like to do something to help children who’ve had to leave their homes in Syria. Here are five great ways for your kids to help Syrian refugees.

See 5 ways your kids can help Syrian refugees