With everything going on in the world today, it’s important for parents to talk to their kids about what they’ve heard, felt, or experienced. These kinds of discussions can sometimes be difficult to engage, so Tutor Doctor has prepared some helpful tips for parents when discussing serious issues and current events with your kids.
1. Ask open-ended questions to determine what they know so far. A great way to start a discussion is to ask your child what they’ve heard about the topic or issue already. Pay careful attention to your phrasing – with an open-ended query, they shouldn’t be able to respond with a simple “yes” or “no.” For example:
DON’T: “Have you heard about [current event] at school?”
This is a yes-or-no question, so a better way to ask would be as follows:
DO: “What have you heard about [current event] so far?”
By posing the question in this way, your child will have to think of an open-ended response and consider what they know about the topic already. Another good reason to do this is to correct any misinformation, as kids often hear about serious issues and events from friends or classmates. Asking your child what they’ve heard so far gives you an opportunity to clarify any misunderstandings from the start.
2. Bring calmness to the conversation with your tone and body language. The fact is, some things are difficult or uncomfortable to talk about. If a topic feels awkward for you to discuss as a parent, imagine how your child might feel! As adults, we can do our best to bring calmness to the conversation by promoting a relaxed and welcoming environment. By speaking in a gentle tone and using receptive body language, parents can help ease the tension and ensure their kids feel comfortable opening up about sensitive topics.
3. Encourage them to be open about their concerns as well as any questions they might have. Kids are often worried they shouldn’t ask something, or that certain topics are strictly “off-limits.” Parents can help to alleviate these concerns by reassuring their kids that all constructive discussion is welcome. Let your kids know that you are there to provide an open ear for discussion. In some cases, it may also be a good idea to reaffirm to your child that there won’t be any consequences or repercussions from being honest and open. For example: “Don’t worry, you’re not going to get in trouble. You can tell me.”
4. Respect their boundaries and privacy. Some of life’s big issues involve major changes taking place in our lives, both mental and physical. Your child may feel embarrassed or ashamed to discuss certain topics or issues for understandable reasons. The best thing parents can do is to reassure their kids that their boundaries and privacy will be treated with the utmost respect. Let them know they don’t have to discuss anything they aren’t ready to talk about yet, and that everything that is discussed will remain confidential and completely private. When kids see their parents as a trusted outlet for emotional support, they are much more likely to open up about sensitive topics.