As parents, you can bet your bottom dollar that you’re going to have to spend a fair amount of time talking to your kids about tough topics. From the death of a loved one to discussions about the birds and the bees, there is always a tough talk waiting to be had, and it’s really important that you approach such talks in the right way if you want to ensure that things go smoothly. From a young age we have played a game around the tea table to encourage our children to talk openly and we hope this will help them long term.
With that in mind, here are some top tips for talking to your kids about tough topics
Preempt them asking
Obviously, this won’t be appropriate in all situations, but quite often, it’s a good idea to start talking to kids about difficult topics very early in their lives, before they actually come face to face with it on their own. If, for example, your child has been learning about death since they were small, when they’re finally confronted with it in real life, due to the death of a pet, or perhaps a loved one, they will already have a decent level of understanding and it may be less difficult for them to deal with. Not only that, but you won’t have the added stress of having to explain it to them when you’re already going through a tough time.
It’s important that you don’t judge your children’s’ thoughts and feelings on any given topic you’re discussing. Kids often have a hard time regulating their emotions and a tendency to say exactly what’s on their mind, if you make it known that you aren’t happy with what they are saying, they may stop talking to you about the difficult stuff and may even feel like they aren’t valued. This is the last thing you want to happen, so always listen to what they have to say, let them know you understand their feelings, and if necessary, correct their assumptions and help them to explore moral values in a safe environment.
Spend time together one-on-one
Spending one-on-one time with your children on a regular basis is a great way to build trust. They’re far more likely to be comfortable around you, even when you’re talking about something difficult like a parental separation if they’re used to having your undivided attention in normal life. The more comfortable they feel, the easier it will be to say what you need to say.
Always be honest
It may be tempting to sugarcoat the truth or tell a little white lie to your kids when the subject you’re broaching is a tough one, but this is a bad idea. Tell your kids that grandma is sleeping or the dog has gone off to live on a farm and there’s a good chance they’ll believe it literally, which will just cause more stress and confusion than necessary.
Obviously, use language they will understand and don’t give them more information than they really need to know/ can handle, but do stick to the facts.
It’s tough, but you can do it!