How to talk to your kid about tough issues

How to talk to your kid about tough issues

I found out suggested actions that a parent like me can follow to explain difficult subjects to children and these are summed up below.

How to talk to your kid about tough issues
My five-year-old daughter is starting to ask me questions like, “Ma, why do you go to work? Can you just stay at home?” One time she asked “Why can’t we buy that toy I saw on TV?” And when see saw on television that some parts of Bihar have been flooded, she inquired, “Why do floods happen?” During these times when she is so inquisitive, I seem to run out of words to explain to her the answers to those questions.

Now, if my child is already asking me these type of questions when she is still very young, I think she'll ask difficult questions when she’s a grown up. I cannot help but ask myself how I can talk to my young children about difficult issues or issues that might not yet be  appropriate for their age. Many things are happening around the country and around the world and discussing about sensitive issues to my children can really be challenging. This concern prompted me to look into how I can effectively do it even before they reach adolescence. From my readings, I found out suggested actions that a parent like me can follow to explain difficult subjects to children and these are summed up below.

Educate Yourself

Even before your child starts to become curious about difficult issues such as sex, relationships, death, natural disasters or all sorts of things, get ready by reading books and other materials and by educating yourself. Through this, you can answer your child’s questions with the simplest explanation without making up stories. With this, you can give them accurate information to avoid misconceptions in their young minds.

Talk to Them Early

While your children are still young, use storybooks as tools to talk about tough things. Provide your children with illustrated children’s books which are able to explain tough issues in the form of stories. Many of these amazing books are now available in bookstores. They will give pleasure, enjoyment and information to little children as well as to teenagers and adults. Parents can use these books as jump-off point for a discussion with their children based on the story they have read. This should be done while the children are still young because they can already see and hear about these issues from the television and other forms of media. As early as possible, parents should lay the foundation for their children in this area.

Encourage Open Communication

If your child asks questions, be open to them. Do not criticize them or be angry with them. Instead, recognize their questions and try to answer them with facts. When you encourage them to ask questions, they will more likely come to you for answers on difficult topics they want to understand. An instance where you can open up communication lines between you and your child is when there are changes in the family such as moving to another house, you or your spouse losing a job or the passing away of a family member. Talk to your child about the changes that are happening and involve them in the process. Do not allow them to understand things on their own. Your guidance and support are highly needed by your children during these changing times.

Initiate Discussions

Though you have kept the lines of communication open between you and your child, still there will be times when they will hesitate talking to you. So you should be observant and start conversations with them whenever there is an opportunity. Like when you are watching television or a movie, you can relate a story or a news event with them by asking questions on what they have seen. From there, start a conversation about tough issues. Talking with your kids as often as you can will also get them used to these discussions.

Communicate Your Values

It is ideal that when you talk to your child about violence, drugs, alcohol and such issues, you should also share with them your values and principles. Your children need to know what you believe is right and wrong and to pass on these values to them. A research study points out that parents who communicate their values to their children are morally guided in their actions.

Listen To Their Questions and Ideas

Give attention to your child when he or she asks a question even if it is a seemingly innocent one. Think carefully about it before answering. If he or she asks more questions or comments, give an appropriate response and try to consider their ideas. Do not also tell him or her much more than what your child can take or understand for that time. Be patient whenever it takes time for them to finish their questions or to say what they think. Demonstrate through listening and being patient that your child is important to you.

Speak Calmly

When your child asks you a question about sex, violence, drugs, or alcohol that you are unprepared to answer, try to be calm as possible. You will not be able to answer him or her in a matter-of-fact way if you are nervous. If you are unable to talk calmly at that time, then ask your partner to do it or try to tell your child that you will talk about it in some other time but make sure that you keep your word.

Practice Honesty

In every discussion you will have with your child, always remember to be honest. It will help your child build trust in you and depend on you for every baffling or confusing thought he or she may have. Don’t leave out things unanswered or unexplained. Even if you think your child is still young, you have to provide honest and accurate answers to their questions.

I now feel much more confident to talk with my children about tough issues when they start to ask or whenever I feel that I already need to discuss these things with them. It is indeed better to be prepared than to be caught unaware.

Written by

Janki Mahadevan

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