Tuesday, January 28, 2020

How To Talk To Your Kids About Difficult Subjects

Photo by Kelli McClintock on Unsplash

Being a parent is one of the most rewarding experiences in the world.  It’s also one of the most difficult.  Protecting our children from danger, upsetting experiences, and stress is a natural urge.  

However much you try and shield your children, they are going to realize that the world can be a scary place, and it’s up to you, as a parent, to help guide them through it. From problems at school, the loss of a pet or relative to much heavier issues such as racism, violence and even war.  

It’s important to tackle these issues with your child as they arise so that they aren’t receiving all of this information through other kids or the media.  Make sure that they aren’t exposed to media that is not suitable for their age.  Kids have no concept of cause and effect until much later and won’t be able to grasp what they are seeing.  

Here are a few things to consider when talking to your kids about difficult issues.

Find out what they already know

Unless the situation is something you’ve had to tell your child about yourself (e.g. the loss of a pet), find out what they know about and where they got this information from.  

Give them the correct information

Be as honest as you can without upsetting them needlessly.  Taking the pet example again, you can say that they were very unwell and did not get better, rather than going into detail over the illness. 

Show them positive examples

If you’re talking about a weightier subject such as violence, war or the environment, show your kid that this is not the norm and, people such as Prem Rawat (https://www.wopg.org/prem-rawat/) or Greta Thunberg (https://twitter.com/GretaThunberg) are great examples of positivity and action to improve things. 

Encourage them to ask questions

By encouraging a conversation, you’re letting your kid know that its ok to ask questions and explore how they are feeling.  It’s not just a case of you giving them the information and telling them how to feel about it. 

Use age-appropriate language and examples 

A toddler will take your words literally, whereas a teenager will understand the context. Keep this in mind when you’re talking to them so as not to upset a toddler by using adult language.  You also don’t want to use baby language to a teenager.  

Reassure them 

As their mom or dad, you are the center of their world, so reassurance from you will go a long way to soothing their anxieties and stress. Just over  7% of children are diagnosed with stress and anxiety at some point in their childhood.  

Use your instincts

You know your own child best so use your instincts when it comes to dealing with difficult subjects.  Some children are more sensitive than others and there’s no one correct way to talk to them about difficult issues.