National Safety MonthJune 1, 2023
PTSD AwarenessJune 8, 2023
As a mom of a little one, I know how hard it can be to discuss difficult topics with our young children. It can be challenging and even uncomfortable, but it is so important to make sure your little one knows they can come to you, but how do you prepare yourself and them? Whether it's about loss or separation, or even sensitive subjects like racism or death, eventually your child will come to you with questions about big topics. Starting big conversations now will not only prepare them for the real world, but is crucial for their emotional well-being and ability to navigate hard situations on their own. By using effective communication strategies and age-appropriate conversation tools, you can create a safe and supportive environment for your child, ensuring that they’ll come to you for difficult advice and conversations of preparation.
Here are five tips we recommend at Bright Littles to help you start the conversation with your little one.
Create a Safe and Open Environment
Establishing a safe and open environment is essential when talking about difficult topics. Make sure your child feels comfortable expressing their thoughts and emotions without fear of judgment or punishment. Choose a quiet and private setting where distractions are minimized, allowing your child to focus on the conversation. Encourage active listening and validate their feelings throughout the discussion.
Tip: Find out why your child is curious about that topic.
Example: That’s a great question, how or why are you asking about xyz? Be a detective!
Be Honest and Transparent
Honesty is vital when discussing challenging subjects with your kids. While it may be tempting to shield them from certain realities, being truthful about the situation will foster trust and build a foundation for open communication now and into their teen years. Use simple and concise explanations, providing facts without embellishments. Answer their questions truthfully, acknowledging any limitations in your knowledge, and offer reassurance and comfort when needed.
Tip: You are not going to have all the answers or may need to take a beat to get clear on what you want to say.
Example: That’s a great question, and mommy doesn’t know the answer. Let me research this topic and get back to you in 24 hours. This shows your child you are not afraid when you don’t have the answers, even mommy asks for help, and it buys you time to figure out what you want to say or not say.
Use Age-Appropriate Language
Tailoring your language to your child's age and developmental stage is crucial for effective communication. Break down complex concepts into simple, understandable terms that align with their level of comprehension. Avoid overwhelming them with too much information at once and be ready to repeat and reinforce key points when necessary. By using age-appropriate language, you can help your child grasp difficult topics more easily.
Tip: Use Bright Littles conversations tools to help you start conversations with your kids. The “hey grown-up” badges are helpful if you are feeling like you don’t know how or what to say.
Encourage Questions and Active Participation
Encourage your child to ask questions and actively participate in the conversation. By inviting their curiosity, you can address their concerns and clear up any misconceptions they may have. Listen attentively, respond patiently, and avoid dismissing or trivializing their queries. This approach helps them feel heard, understood, and encourages their engagement in future discussions about difficult topics.
Tip: Share a time in your life where you had a similar situation or feeling. How did you navigate the situation? Did you ask for help or talk to someone?
Provide Emotional Support and Reassurance
Discussing difficult topics can evoke a range of emotions in your child, including confusion, sadness, or even fear. It is essential to provide emotional support and reassurance throughout the conversation. Validate their feelings by empathizing and acknowledging their emotions. Reassure them of your love and support, emphasizing that they can always come to you with questions or concerns. By offering comfort and stability, you can help them navigate challenging subjects more effectively.
Tip: Validate feelings over providing solutions. I bet you felt scared. I totally understand how that hurt your feelings. Many times they just want to be heard, just like us!
Initiating conversations with young children (and yourself) requires sensitivity, patience, and understanding. By creating a safe and open environment, using age-appropriate language, being honest and transparent, encouraging active participation, and providing emotional support, you can help your child develop a better understanding of challenging subjects while nurturing their mental health. Remember, ongoing communication and support will allow your child to navigate these discussions with confidence and resilience as they grow!
Meet Tara Miko Ballentine
When Tara Miko Ballentine could not find age-appropriate tools to prepare her little girl for the real world, she rolled up her sleeves and started Bright Littles
. Award-winning social-emotional conversation tools help parents, educators, and caregivers start BIG conversations through games, art, activities, and more. She is on a mission to raise kinder, more thoughtful generations of Bright Leaders. The world changed, and our parenting has to change too!
When she is not chasing her little one and changing the world, she is the CMO of Maaribu, a luxury lifestyle brand in Austin, Texas.
Conversation tools for the real world!