Sometimes, talking to children about what is going on in the world can be just plain tricky! Topics like systemic racism, COVID-19, the death of a loved one, or current events can feel difficult to bring up with children. Even though these topics may be hard to talk about, it’s important for children to know what is going on in the world around them and how it impacts their lives. Talking with kids about the tricky stuff helps them become stronger listeners and learners with greater social emotional skills.
Here are some tips for your next conversation
- Don’t assume that your children are “too young” to start learning about a given topic. When we start conversations early, we help kids to grow up more aware of the world around them. Starting the conversation young also helps kids want to learn more as they get older, encouraging them to take charge of their learning. However, some details of a topic may be better suited to older children.
- Listen to your child’s feelings about the topic. Give them the opportunity to ask questions. It is important for them to feel heard.
- Break down big issues into things that kids can understand. Explain how something going on in the world may affect them, and use vocabulary that they can easily understand. It’s a great idea to use books or resources to help explain concepts to your children.
- Talking about tricky topics will likely bring up a lot of feelings. Use your conversation as an opportunity to describe these feelings and help your children identify how they are feeling and why. This practice builds your children’s social emotional skills and vocabulary.
- When you have big, difficult, or serious conversations, make sure your child feels like they are in a safe space. When children feel safe, they are better equipped to learn and take in new information.
- Be honest about your own values and feelings, and accepting of your child’s thoughts. It’s okay for you and your child to have different views.
- It’s also okay to not know all the answers. Be honest with your child. You are both learning together! Seek out other books and resources as needed.
- 10 tips for teaching and talking to kids about race
- How to Talk to Kids About Difficult Subjects
- How to talk to children about difficult news
- 8 Tips for Talking to Your Child About Racial Injustice
-Mandy, Children's Team, Martha Cooper Library
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