How to explain ANZAC Day to children

Kinderling News & Features

With ANZAC Day upon us, last week’s Parent Panel discussed how they approach the day with their kids. 

Author and nutritionist Amie Harper and graphic design artist Beck Feiner joined Shevonne Hunt to dissect the complicated topic without glorifying the topic and differentiating celebration vs. commemoration. 

Listen to the Panel on Kinderling Conversation: 

Avoid the violence 

Beck’s son is fascinated with warfare, so she tries to direct the attention away from the brutal side of the issue.

“For me, it’s just about steering him away from the violent side of the conversation and more into the hero side, what they did for people,” she says. 

Talk about the history

Beck’s created an Aussie Legends alphabet for kids, and she’s had some interesting feedback in relation to it.

“People are saying, ‘Well this is an alphabet poster… how are kids meant to understand these legends?’”

“I don’t expect a three or four-year-old to understand straight away who all these legends in Australia are, but I wanted to start opening that conversation up,” Beck emphasises. The same applies to our ANZACs, “I don’t think you have to push it down their throats or anything, but you’re going to start to talk about it, start to Google it, tell stories about it,” she says. 

She sees it as becoming a part of our history that we tell our children. 

Introduce commemorative experiences 

Shevonne says it’s become one of her daughter’s favourite things to go to the local RSL (Returned and Service League) club for dinner, where they play the Last Post at 6pm each night. 

“What I find difficult is how to talk about it in a way that does respect the sacrifice people make, but also doesn’t go into the fear of war,” Shevonne explains. For her, it’s about imparting to her kids the overall meaning of what our military men and women have done for us in all wars. 

“[It’s] also understanding that the world - even though it’s certainly not at peace now - what the world wars meant, what historical context is around that,” she says. 

Amy says it’s also about learning from history. She took her young daughter to an ANZAC parade last year and plans to do the same this year: “I want her to grow up doing that, as more of a commemoration to the people, they sacrificed so much.”