Being a parent is an absolutely rewarding experience, yet it also comes with its fair share of challenges. One such challenge is how to talk to you kids about sensitive issues. Some parents would rather avoid discussing difficult topics with their kids – but if you are a parent you need to remember, if you don’t do it, then your child will get his or her information for other sources – sources that may end up doing more harm than good. Here are some tips when it comes to talking to your children about issues such as bullying, alcohol, drugs, sex and death (and if you got nervous just reading that last sentence – that’s okay, you are not alone – most parents struggle with discussing such subjects with their children).
1. Start Early: As children become more aware of themselves and their world, they start to ask more and more questions. So you need to be ready. Use age-appropriate language; with younger children, use simple, short words and straightforward explanations.
2. Talk to Your Child Regularly: Talk to them about anything and everything. The more time you spend with them, the greater the chance they will feel comfortable coming to you when then have a question of a sensitive nature.
3. Be Comfortable with the Topic Yourself: You want to make sure that when the time comes, you are giving your child accurate information. The province’s health website provides accurate and up-to-date information on many health-related topics (some of which may be translated into several different languages). The library is another great resource.
4. It is okay to say “I don’t know.” Chances are you child will ask you something that you do not have the answer to – it is okay to say you do not know, but that you will find out and get back to your child about it.
5. Ask your child what he/she thinks about the topic: Kids are constantly interpreting the world around us. If they bring something up, ask them what they think. You may be amazed at what they have already picked up
6. Listen to your Child / Watch for cues: If your child seems overwhelmed, tired or just plain bored, stop the talk and then re-introduce it at another time. Your child may even bring the topic up later (and then later again, and again, and again …. Be patient – that is how they are learning).
Kids get their information from television, the internet, magazines, teachers, and friends – but remember – no one can prepare them for the future (and instill the values you want them to have) better than you, their parent.