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How to Talk to Kids about Ukraine with Dr. Marcie Beigel

George Grombacher April 1, 2022

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How to Talk to Kids about Ukraine

LifeBlood: We talked about how to talk to kids about Ukraine, a framework for having difficult conversations, why the best place to talk isn’t always at a table, and how to make it happen, with Dr. Marcie Beigel, CEO of Behavior and Beyond, Parenting and Behavior expert.  

Listen to learn why you should keep an open line of communication with your kid’s teachers!

You can learn more about Marcie at, Twitter, Instagram, YouTube and LinkedIn.

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You can learn more about us at LifeBlood.Live, Twitter, LinkedIn, Instagram, YouTube and Facebook or you’d like to be a guest on the show, contact us at contact@LifeBlood.Live. 

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Our Guests

George Grombacher


Dr. Marcie Beigel

Episode Transcript

Come on

left, this is George G. And the time is right welcome today’s guest strong, powerful. Dr. Mercy Beagle. Marcy, are you ready to do this? I’m ready. All right, let’s go. Welcome back. Dr. Marci is CEO of behavior and beyond. She’s a parenting and behavior expert, mental health consultant, and speaker excited to have you back on. Marcy, tell us a little about your personal life more about your work and why you do what you do.

Marcie Beigel 0:38
So my personal life, I just moved to a brand new apartment, but I have been spending most of my personal energy thinking about how to redecorate and really settle into, that feels like the perfect time as things are shifting and opening back up to be having a new beginning. So I am delighted that my life is aligning with what’s happening in at least in New York in the world, I should say.

I do what I do. I work with families, and I work with adults to understand how to navigate humaneness better, because I think humans are fascinating. I also really believe that if we as the adults, put the right tools in place for our children, all behavior can change, there can be happier home, there can be more laughter. And most importantly, your children can grow up to be wonderful, happy, fantastic, amazing humans. And sometimes we need you additional tools than what naturally organically is in our head. So that’s why I do what I do.

george grombacher 1:37
And a man could that’s well said, fancy myself a relatively capable, resourceful human being. But if I were just to rely on my intuition and impulses in raising my children, I would fall flat on my face. So I appreciate everything you just said. And we were talking about now, go ahead place.

Marcie Beigel 1:57
Somehow in parenting, it always feels weird to ask for help. And parents think they’re supposed to innately know exactly what to do to raise their kids. And that’s just not true. Just like everywhere else in our lives, we ask for help. We go to business school to learn how to run a business. We get a trainer to know how to get our physical health in order, we sometimes need to ask an expert, what the best parenting strategy is for our child. Because what we organically know doesn’t always match up with what they need.

george grombacher 2:26
Yeah, that’s fascinating, right? It’s like, I want to be a perfect parent, I want to be a perfect dad. And so me thinking that I need to ask for help. Well, that would shatter my whatever I have built up.

Marcie Beigel 2:41
Yeah, yeah, we get mentors for all sorts of other ways in places. Asking for help as a parent isn’t a sign of failure. As a parent, it’s a sign of strength, it’s knowing that none of us were designed to do any of it alone, it takes a village to invite the village in if you don’t organically have it there with you.

george grombacher 2:58
Like it. So out of the frying pan into the fire, needs to explain to my kids why it is that we had to wear masks and and and about this spiky ball that they see everywhere, which is terrifying. And now, Marcy, the Ukraine, conflict comes up.

Marcie Beigel 3:15
Yeah. We go from one difficult conversation to another difficult conversation to another. And some of the principles are the same about how to have hard conversations about the world with your kids. And some of them are different when we’re talking about a pandemic versus a war. And so many parents are confused about how to talk to their kids about this, because we want to protect our children from the fact that there is violence in the world, that there is this type of destruction and heartache and quite frankly, cruelty. Yes, we can’t not talk to them about it, because they’re going to hear about it. They’re going to hear about it in school, they’re going to hear about it. On social media, they’re going to hear about it on the news that just happened to be, you know, a snippet in between songs on the radio, they’re going to hear about it. And you want to make sure that you are talking to your kids about the story you want them to get about this war. Doesn’t mean having a really long conversation short and sweet is generally going to be the best way to do it. But frequently.

george grombacher 4:28
Short and sweet. And frequently. I like it. So I want to talk about just specifically obviously, how to talk to kids about Ukraine, but you talked about is, is there an overall framework, you say, Okay, we’re having a tough conversation about COVID, Ukraine, whatever it might be, that you say here, here are some of the rules of engagement. It’s not the right question.

Marcie Beigel 4:59
Yeah. So part of it is opening the state and saying, I’m going to tell you a few things about what I know is going on as the grown up, you want to be giving them the information. There’s a war, Russia’s invading the Ukraine, and a lot of people are getting hurt. If your kids are little, that’s all you’re gonna say, your kids older, depending on their age, you’re going to add in more. And then you’re going to pause and say, what questions do you have? They might already know a whole bunch of information, have a whole bunch of questions and have a whole bunch of feelings, and it’s just gonna pour on that, and they’re going to share everything. Or they might be like, I don’t, I don’t know what that means. And so the next step is, then they don’t have any questions to tell them what that means in the world. Right? A little bit of that framework of, there are some people who are doing these things. And then always bring it back to your home. What does that mean for your family? Are you physically safe? Or your loved one who your children personally no physically safe? Because that’s really important. And then add in, what are you going to do? How are you going to help? How are you going to contribute? Think about that can be as simple as saying, we’re going to send some love, we’re going to send some prayers to the people who are being hurt. It can be that simple. It can be we’re going to send money, because we know donations are needed, it can be we’re going to go find Ukraine businesses, and buy from them. Whatever it is that your family wants to do to support this effort, let your kids know. So they understand. We all participate in one way or another.

george grombacher 6:39
I love it. So starting point is want to sit down and have a conversation, or we’re already sitting down. We’re at the breakfast table. We’re having a conversation going through our regular routine. And then it’s, you know, hey, little Marcy, I don’t know if you’ve seen this or not. But there is a war going on in a country called the Ukraine, and then we talk about here are sort of, for lack of a better term, the facts as we know them.

Marcie Beigel 7:08
Yeah, exactly. Now, we as adults, always think that the hard conversations have to happen when we’re sitting down, and we’re face to face, we’re going to do this thing, we get kind of serious about it. Kids are not like that, when especially, you know, kids under 10. If they’re in motion, it’s gonna be easier to walk to school or the drive to school. Right? When you’re on your way to soccer practice on your way to a dance class. You know, when you’re walking home from a friend’s house being like, you know, have you heard about this? I wanted to talk to you about it. How are you feeling? You know, where if you happen to walk by walk into a store, and the news is on and they hear something be like, did you hear that? Cuz there’s some big stuff, and I want to check in with you about it. So it’s not a serious conversation. It’s a However, life one fold.

george grombacher 7:58
Nice. Okay. And is that something that it is? That’s that’s, that’s then I don’t want to say better or preferred to if there’s something that I want to talk to my kid about. If I want to talk to James about Ukraine, I just can look for an opportunity to sort of serendipitously serendipitously bring it up, or when we’re in motion versus we don’t need to schedule a meeting. And I don’t need to send them a calendar invite.

Marcie Beigel 8:28
I mean, if your kid is really good on the calendar, invite exfoliates I would suggest trying both. Okay, my preference with kids. And I find that most of the kids that I am around, and I’m around a lot tend to be that natural organic conversation is better for them. Yet, there are always certain kids that when they’re they have something important shrunk, but they want to sit on the couch and really talk to you. And so try both, and see which resonates better with your child, see what actually gets them talking as opposed to you talking. And then from there, keep moving forward. Because this is not going to be a one and done conversation. This might be a daily conversation, a daily check in, depending on how heavy it’s sitting on your child part. Or it might be in every few days. You got lots of opportunities to learn what’s going to work best for the flow in your family. You might have a morning kid versus an evening, kid. check that stuff out, too.

george grombacher 9:22
I like it. So we we’ve all been asked by somebody or a parent when we were little. What’d you learn at school today? And I’ve certainly fallen guilty, fallen prey to that as well as my kid what what they learned at school today or something like that? Just get nothing back. So when I’m trying to ask, Hey, what you know, we’re grabbing an ice cream and war in Ukraine and here’s what’s going on. What do you think about that? And I just get kind of a blank stare. How else can I how can I better ask a question

Marcie Beigel 9:58
I would ask Have your Teacher said anything about it. Because a lot of teachers are using it as lessons and talking to their kids about it because someone brings it up. And any of your friends shared anything about it. Now, if you have a tween or a teen, I would also ask them if they seen anything on social media. A lot of kids are learning a ton about this, we’re on tick tock, which is amazing and terrifying for me all the time. Because it means that your kids are seeing things that really can be impactful for them. So you want to be checking in Have you seen anything about those real time videos, allow us to inside experiences we couldn’t have before. And that’s phenomenal. But it’s scary when your 11 year old is seeing pieces of war.

george grombacher 10:44
So yeah, that’s sad about that. And there’s probably a deeper conversation to be had about why is your child on Tik Tok when they’re 11 years old, but that’s neither here nor there, Marcy.

Marcie Beigel 10:58
Alright, so for an episode completely social media kids, we can go that is.

george grombacher 11:04
So being able to hopefully just draw out of them whatever they’re interested in sharing, or whatever is on their mind or their heart and, and then helping to sort of frame what that means. What does it mean? And that, that I can definitely that’ll be a series of conversations, certainly. And then our art, are we physically safe? I think that that, yes. That that seems to make a lot of sense. It’s a question.

Marcie Beigel 11:34
The are we physically safe allows them to ground in the fact that while people are getting hurt, am I at risk? Right? We’re hearing about bombs falling, we’re hearing about cities being destroyed. And is that going to happen here is that going to happen to my house is that going to happen in my home is always where we go. Not because your child is selfish and egocentric, but because our own survival becomes the forefront in many conversations. If I am faced, then I can help others, right, we put on our own oxygen mask before helping someone else. If I know I am safe, I live in New York City, I’m very safe right now, I have a lot more capacity to help people far away. Because I know that I’m not at risk. If I’m at risk, well, then I have to do things to make sure I am physically safe. And your child is going to start thinking that way what what’s going to happen now and their anxiety will go up. So you want to bring their anxiety down by letting them know where they are. If they’re not. If you happen to be somewhere where you are not safe, then you start talking about what you’re doing. That helps you be safe. Now, whether that’s because you’re sleeping in a particular place that you know is safe. Maybe you talk about the food that you have in storage, maybe you talk about the water supply that you have. But when you are not safe, you have to talk about what you are doing for your children that is helping to protect them. You can’t do everything, but this is what we are doing. Because action combat anxiety, and no matter what the dynamic is that will that will always help. What are we doing?

george grombacher 13:08
Nice actions combat anxiety. That’s true for us grownups too. And the reality that that 99% of us probably me included, if you just gave me a blank map, could I tell you where Ukraine was right now? Well, let’s be honest. I’m not 100% Sure, probably. But but but maybe not. So why would my five year old have any idea if Ukraine was, you know, just south of Russia? Or, you know, two blocks away from us? Right? They’ve no idea.

Marcie Beigel 13:37
Yep. Yep. Exactly. They don’t really have that scope. And for them, the world sometimes feels really huge or really small. And they don’t know how far different things can go. So that’s really important. Yeah.

george grombacher 13:50
That that actions, combat anxiety, and just letting them know, hey, there’s a lot of things that we can’t do to help people in Ukraine. But these are the things that we can do. And then we are doing, would you like to do that?

Marcie Beigel 14:05
Yeah. Or we are doing this as a family, right, we’re going to go through and we’re going to collect close to send, we’re going to go to a center that is collecting items, and we’re going to help them pack it up. We’re going to each take $20 out of our bank account and donate it, you know, so that they can feel like they are part of you know, they have their own money. Maybe they give $1 for every whatever of yours. If they don’t then talk about the collective fun. Whatever you’re doing, have them be part of it. So yes, there are certainly ways to ask them if they want to do something, ask them if they want to participate. And there are other things that just as a parent, you lead the conversation say, this is what we do. When people are in trouble. This is what how we help them. And it allows them to build empathy, to build compassion, to build that idea that The world is bigger than themselves, which, using a really heartbreaking global situation to teach your children to be better humans is really the endgame of it all. It’s why we have these hard conversations so that they can learn. What do we do when it happens?

george grombacher 15:19
I like it. That makes a lot of sense. That sounds easy enough, Marcy, I shouldn’t be able to do that.

Marcie Beigel 15:25
Alright, go have a few conversations come back and let me know how it goes. And then we’ll you know, problem solved from there because it is that easy, right? It is you follow these steps and, and feelings come up. So it can feel perfectly going through it. But that’s part of the conversation. Be bold enough to tell your kids that it’s hard for you that you feel sad that you’re not sure what to do. But here’s where you’re going to start. When we share our feelings as parents, we let our kids know that it’s okay for them to share their

george grombacher 15:59
I love it. And I’m thinking about just all the different scenarios that and all the important conversations that we have to have, and how it probably does make more sense to just be in motion versus building up this big thing. Like I need to talk to my kids about whatever, sex Ukraine COVID don’t need to make it this big uncomfortable sit down kind of a thing. So unless my kid is an expert at calendaring and loves it,

Marcie Beigel 16:29
exactly. And remember, the difference between your uncomfortability and your kids are kids, a lot of times don’t have the same hang ups, they don’t have the same history, they don’t have the same like, Oh, this is a taboo subject that we have as adults. And so they’re like, cool, let’s talk about that great on to the next. And so manage your own anxiety. And that is your own achy feeling about having to talk to your kids about these big things. So that you can go in without that as part of the conversation. Sadness when a situation is sad, yes. But awkwardness that’s yours. And you don’t want to pass that on to your kids.

george grombacher 17:10
Love it. Well, Marcy, people are ready for your difference making tip, even though you’ve already given me a big list, what do you have for them?

Marcie Beigel 17:17
So I had to one of them comes back to when you asked about school, talk to your teachers, send them an email and say, Hey, I’ve been talking to my kids about what’s happening. I wonder what you’re sharing in school so that you can build that bridge and partner, a quick email to build that is going to make a huge difference in what your kids understand. So that’s one, and to remember that this is all about humanity. These big conversations, whether it’s about a war, or COVID, or anything else that’s happening in the world. It’s about teaching your children, that other people’s lives matter, that other humans are out there struggling and you’re going to help make it better, because it gives them perspective on their own struggle. And ultimately, we all want to have a world full of more amazing humans.

george grombacher 18:07
I think that that is great stuff that definitely gets Come on. Yes, more amazing humans are seeing. Yeah, thank you so much for coming back on where can people learn more about you? How can I engage with you?

Marcie Beigel 18:20
Absolutely. It has been a delight to be here. So the best place to find me is my website, which is Dr. Marci calm, Dr. Ma RC You can also engage with a bunch of my content on my YouTube channel, which is Dr. Marci Beagle on YouTube. Excellent. Find me chat with me. Let me know your thoughts and let me know your questions.

george grombacher 18:43
Perfect. If you enjoyed as much as I did show Marcia appreciation and share today’s show with a friend who also appreciates good ideas go to Dr. Marci calm It’s Dr M AR CIE comm binder on YouTube at Dr. Marci Beagle Big L and check out other great resources and do an even more amazing job talking your kids then then you’re already doing Thanksgiving, Marcy. Thank you have a great day. You too. And until next time, keep fighting the good fight. We’re all in this together.

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