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How Do You Talk to Kids About Tough Topics?
It’s extremely difficult to talk with children about death, disease, divorce and disasters. However, this is an essential task for us as parents. Also, this is an opportunity for us to help our children properly process their emotions and build their resilience.
Talking with toddlers about tough topics
The key here is by constantly reassuring our children that we’re always here to listen. Whenever something’s worrying them, they should know and feel our presence and emotional availability. When they have pressing questions, we must always be ready to answer and more importantly, listen to what they have to say.
This open communication can help children properly process their emotions and better navigate the experience of what’s about to come. For example, when parents are about to divorce, it’s critical here that children feel and understand that it’s not their fault. Also, they should have an idea beforehand on where their mums and dads will be. This way, the transition would be a bit easier and somehow they would still feel in control of the situation. It can be extremely tough for children to feel that everything’s out of control and there’s no sense of stability and predictability in their world.
If we want our children to still feel some sense of stability through this tough time, it always helps to give them an idea of what life will be like. It also helps to talk in simple and concrete language, something that toddlers can immediately grasp. Although toddlers can already understand the differences between happiness, sadness, fear and anger, they still think in concrete ways and they’re still trying to make sense of the world around them.
When we talk about tough topics, it always helps to be simple, straightforward and reassuring. For example, if there’s death in the family, we can say: “She has died and we won’t see her anymore, I am also very sad.” If mum and dad decided to go their separate ways, the mum can say: “Your dad and I will live in different houses. We love you and I will always be here for you.”
As parents, we should always emphasise reassurance and love. That’s because for our toddlers, the world is still fast, scary and unpredictable. But if we’re always here to listen to them and take the time to explain what’s happening, our children can still feel safe.