Even the most self-assured parent may fidget when it comes to discussing complex topics with their children. It's difficult enough to explain frequent family problems to our children, such as divorce or grief. However, it might feel impossible to put them into words when confronted with major world issues like violence, disasters, and inequality. Unfortunately, trauma affects children's lives regularly, no matter how hard parents attempt to keep "bad things" out of their lives. This is why you should talk to your kids about difficult topics instead of meaninglessly trying to protect them. Although it may appear hard, taking a proactive approach and discussing such things openly can help your child feel safer.
Plan ahead of time
The first step in having a difficult conversation is to outline what you want to talk about ahead of time. You must select a single issue to address rather than several. You might, for example, opt to speak to your children about death. When doing so, try to keep it concise and focused on this one topic. Do not move on to other subjects until your child has had time to comprehend what you've talked about.
Furthermore, think about the approach you want to take, the phrases you wish to use, and the general flow of the conversation. The wonderful thing about the art of parenting is that there is no one-size-fits-all approach. So, once the conversation starts, feel free to adjust the plan and go with the flow.
Adjust how you talk to your kids about difficult topics based on their age and developmental stage
Because children absorb information differently as they grow from babies to teenagers, considering their age and developmental stage is always a good idea. Even something as every day as moving to a new home needs a different approach depending on how old your kids are. For example, youngsters may not understand what's happening and why, whereas teenagers will. Nevertheless, you must communicate about this openly with both groups of children, adapting your language as necessary. Understanding how children perceive the world at various stages of development can assist you in providing information in an age-appropriate manner. Of course, each child brings their own set of sensitivities, temperaments, experiences, and other unique characteristics to any discussion. Therefore, before you talk to your kids about difficult topics, determine how well they absorb information.
Make a safe and comfortable environment
It is essential that you, as a parent, create a safe and comfortable environment in which to conduct such discussions in both mental and physical ways. Be open to discussions and do not shy away from such subjects when your child approaches you. Likewise, make a comfortable space in your home where you can sit and chat about complex topics with few distractions. If your youngster catches you off guard with a sensitive subject while you're out and about, save the conversation for later when you get home. Acknowledge the subject or topic and convey your eagerness to talk about it when you are in a more appropriate environment. You must initiate the topic once you return home, and the trip back will give you just enough time to prepare.
Keep your emotions in check
Most of the time, you will be emotionally affected by some of these challenging topics or concerns, making it more challenging to support your child. For example, if you wish to talk to your child about your seasonal depression, you must remain honest about your feelings. On the other hand, it's also essential to avoid being overwhelmed or having a negative emotional outburst during these interactions. When talking with your children, you can demonstrate that even difficult feelings (like anger, fear, or sadness) may be communicated peacefully by staying composed. Therefore, take some time if you or your child need a break to comprehend and deal with your current feelings.
Be honest, answer and ask questions
It's pointless to have these conversations with your child if you feel you have to be dishonest. Of course, we recommend that you present the facts in simple terms that they can understand and leave out any gruesome or disturbing details that they will not benefit from hearing. If your child asks you what an "abuser" is when talking about violence, be honest but pick your words. Likewise, honestly but wisely respond to any questions they may have. However, be honest with them and admit that you don't have all the answers when it comes to these topics. To remedy this, you can do research together or (if your child is too young) research and get back to them with more information. Lastly, ask them questions and hear what they have to say.
Reassure them and give them support
At the end of the conversation, your children may have a lot of uneasy feelings after learning about the terrible aspects of the world around them. Soothe their fears and worries by telling them that they are loved and that you will do everything to keep them safe. As much as you wish to take away these feelings, it's vital to choose your words carefully and avoid phrases like:
Keep the conversation open
Remember that once your difficult conversation ends, it might not be over. Your children may come up with additional questions about the subject to learn more. And, if you did a good job of communicating with them, they'll know who to turn to for answers. Naturally, if you require more time to prepare an answer, let them know and approach them once you're ready. Overall, you must recognize that if you want to talk to your kids about difficult topics, you must engage in conversations with them that will only evolve as they develop.
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