No matter how much we may try to shield our kids from bad things in life, the truth is, bad things happen. Here are ways to discuss tough situations with your child, according to the American Psychological Association (APA).
- Ask Questions
- Tell the Truth
- Provide Reassurance
- Seek professional help
It’s important to be the one that initiates the conversation. By doing so, it lets your child know that you are a source of support. But prepare yourself. Practice the conversation in your head, or even in front of the mirror. Think of certain ways the conversation may go or questions your child may ask. Be sure to use language that is age appropriate.
Before you begin asking questions or initiate the conversation, be sure to find a quiet place for you and your child to talk. The place should be one with minimal distractions and a place where your child feels comfortable.
Once you have a quiet place, ask questions. Asking questions such as, “what did you hear about that?” allows you to find out what your child knows and gives you a sense of how to address the situation. You can also ask questions like “how did that make you feel?” By doing so, you show your child they are in a safe space to speak freely.
After each question, listen. Listening and allowing your child to speak openly about the topic builds trust. Actively listen to your child, without interruptions or corrections. In doing so, you build trust with your child.
Tell the Truth
No matter how hard the topic may be, and no matter how much you want to shield your child from bad things, tell the truth. It’s okay to not have all the answers, and if you don’t have an answer to a question such as, “why do people do things like that?” it’s okay to respond with I don’t know. Be honest with your child.
Of course, we want to protect our kids from anything that may harm them, but we may not always be able to. Nonetheless, provide reassurance to your child in a way that is honest. Let them know that you will do your best to protect them. Reassure them that they can come and talk to you about anything that is on their mind or bothering them. Let them know that you are their support system.
Seek Professional Help
If your child continues to show signs of stress, anxiety, or aggression, seek professional help. There are several non-profit organizations in South Los Angeles that offer free to low-cost assistance.
You can find a list of free mental health resources for kids in Los Angeles here.