You know you have to talk about the tough stuff with your kids. But when is the right time, and what do you even say?
In truth, it’ll be different for everyone. It’s important to keep things as comfortable as possible. The most important part is to start talking.
Here are six ways to start the conversations.
- Start early
It’s natural to want to shield your child from sensitive and difficult topics, but we all know that’s impossible. Eventually, they will hear something. It’s better that the information comes from you.
Keep the conversations age appropriate. So, if you want to address the topic of substance abuse, you may start talking about how OTC and prescription medications can be harmful if you take too much. You don’t have to get into the meat of the discussion when your child is very young. Your goal is to lay the foundation for later conversations.
- Talk often
Since you’re starting early and keeping things age appropriate, this will be easier. Instead of thinking of this as one conversation, consider it as an open discussion. Whenever appropriate, or when the topic comes up, talk about the sensitive subject with your child. If you want to address the topic of death, for example, you may want to bring it up by talking about someone else’s pet and what happens when they die. You can also read age-appropriate books about death to teach your child about it.
When we’re talking about sensitive topics, we often forget that it’s as important to listen as it is to talk. When you listen, you can find out what your child already knows about the topic and whether he or she has any misconceptions that need to be addressed. Listening will allow you to tailor the conversation to your child’s needs.
- Ask questions
If your child isn’t offering up any talking points, that’s okay. He or she may feel a little uncomfortable. But to keep it from becoming a lecture, ask questions throughout the talk. This is another way to help tailor the conversation to your child.
- Relate it to real life
The reason we have to talk about sensitive topics is that they occur in everyday life. So, when they do, bring up the conversation Conversely, you can talk about real life examples whenever you decide to start the conversation. In the example where you’re talking about drugs, you may bring up a recent news story where someone overdosed.
- Be open and honest
Do as I say and not as I do isn’t always the best way to parent. For example, if you’re a smoker, it may not be effective to simply tell your child not to smoke. Don’t be hypocritical. But if you are struggling with a vice like smoking, you can talk about the struggle. Talk about how you wish you never started because now you feel like a slave to the cigarette. And talk about how it has negatively impacted your health and life. Most importantly, talk about how you’re trying to quit. As a parent, you are the largest influence on your family and their health. Do what’s right for them because it’s not only going to benefit them later in life, but it will help you, too.
No one really likes having the sensitive conversations, but the more you talk, the easier they’ll get. Start talking to your kids today.