One of the most important predictors for the mental health of children who experience conflict and displacement is the way that they are cared for. Warm, positive parenting can help to buffer children from harm. Our colleagues at The University of Manchester worked with families living through war and displacement caused by the Syrian conflict to identify the challenges they faced caring for their children. Parents identified many changes in their children, including distress and fears, and changes in behaviour.
Our colleague Rachel Calam have developed a simple two-page leaflet combining evidence-based parenting skills with the needs identified by Syrian parents. It was field-tested by a humanitarian organization which printed 3000 of the leaflets and distributed these inside bread wrappers with relief supplies to families inside Syria. Research showed that parents found the information valuable. Families also felt that it was very important to know that someone cared about what they were going through and tried to help.
It has now been translated into Ukranian and Russian. Do please feel free to share this information leaflet through any channels you think appropriate so that parents and caregivers are able to best support children through their experiences of conflict, flight, displacement and resettlement.
Aala El-Khani, who worked with Syrian families for the research gave a TED talk, “What it’s like to be a parent in a war zone”, which has had 1.1 million views so far. TED have this week made this readily accessible as an Editor’s Pick on their front page. It has translations in many languages, including Ukranian and Polish. There are more resources on the link.