Children ask: How should we treat our classmates from Ukraine and Russia? Psychologist Gabriela Dymešová is responsible

Should we be afraid of a war in Ukraine?

Granted, we all experience anxiety or anxiety right now and that’s perfectly fine as it’s our body’s natural defense mechanism. We need to know that children and adults experience exactly the same thing. It’s not that your parents don’t have the same problem as you. They did it and it is important to talk about it with them and release the tension that you have in you. At this point, it is important to think that we are safe and living as before.

People around us say that we should be afraid of war or on the contrary minimize it. What should we children do if we just don’t know each other?

I think it’s important to talk about your confusion. It’s okay to have this confusion inside you, and it’s okay to ask for everything you need to know. And such a task for us adults is to be there for you and talk it over with you.

If I have a Russian or Ukrainian classmate in my class, how should I treat them?

When you feel sorry for something like this, you can express it to him. But at the same time, it’s important to remember how you treated him before and he’s still the same person and your friend. The fact that there is a nationality that is now at war with someone does not make sense at the moment.

And when a Russian and a Ukrainian are in class, how are they supposed to treat each other?

More than one factor plays a role here. One thing is that they were probably friends before too. They were united by the language they spoke, they were your friends and they still remain your friends. It’s good to point out that they understood each other and their nations are fighting together now, the rest of us have no part to play. And the second thing is that the fact that they are both from a different nation is not important. When you draw a picture of a friend and someone tells you to make him a Russian or a Ukrainian, you just have to draw a flag or he will frown or have fear in his eyes, but those are just external characteristics.

Let’s stay in school, what should I do if my teacher refuses to teach a Russian or Ukrainian classmate?

I am convinced that any intimidation or injustice must be immediately questioned. If I have a teacher I have a good relationship with and trust, I can definitely ask him. But if it’s a teacher with whom I have a more distant or complicated relationship, then it may be good to turn to someone else. I’m thinking maybe a school psychologist or a school counselor. Because he or she sees more in this school system. I don’t need to go directly to the principal to credit the teacher. I admit that I don’t have a clear answer to this, what is the only right option. But I think when a child is unsure of himself, he should turn to someone he trusts.

We have peer mediation in school, for example, which is such a subsidiary body that helps solve problems between two students or between a teacher and a student. Can this be used?

It’s absolutely the best you can use, it’s not just such an option in every school. There will be just enough someone you trust, like I said. It could also be that the teacher didn’t do it on purpose either. We also do many things unconsciously. I may be mad at the Russia in me and I’ll be completely oblivious to treating this student differently than before, but I don’t have to realize that. And it has nothing to do with me being an ugly or bad teacher.

And how can war mentally affect children in Ukraine? Even those who will then come here to the Czech Republic.

It is probably important to know how much this child may behave differently. For example, it is important for you friends that the child begins to behave very differently. You have known it and it will change a lot. Then something is wrong. And as for the child who arrives, and who you didn’t know before, he can manifest the consequences of this trauma in various ways. Young children, for example, become very active and very angry. And people resent them for being children who are supposed to be sad and cry. But being hyperactive and continuing to spin around the wheel is just one way to deal with it. Or, on the contrary, they are children who stand in a corner, crying, clinging very much to their mothers and fathers.

And for older children, how can it be?

For seniors, the experience is very similar, but from the outside it may look different. Maybe a new classmate from Ukraine will come to the class, he will sit in the corner, frown, shut up and your friends might start to abuse him because he thinks he doesn’t want to not be friends with you. But it’s not like that, he’s just scared.

Can this situation of children be compared, for example, to what they experienced during a coronavirus pandemic?

I certainly see common themes there. What comes to me the most at this point in relation to the covid time is the situation in which you watch the media. You watch the news, you are curious children, your parents watch the news, you have social networks. It’s fine for the kids to watch, but it would also be nice if they watched less. Because this information can be so big for you that it can also traumatize you. Because you are witnessing an event that is not beautiful, and I think you should run away.

Leave a Comment