Tips for Talking About the Big Issues With Kids
Parents understandably want to protect children and shield them from life’s harsher realities. In the long run, however, this can hinder kids from developing the resilience they need to carry them through difficult times.
It’s important to talk about the ‘big’ issues such as death, illness and divorce as well as violence, natural disasters, racism and war with children in an age-appropriate way. Kids also need a chance to talk about spirituality and what it means to live a meaningful life.
Conversations about these subjects can help kids develop insight and encourage them to think more deeply about things. These tips will help you talk about big issues with your child.
Use Picture Books
Picture books for young readers are much more sophisticated than many parents realise. They tackle a range of tough subjects in a sensitive manner, which is why they are ideal for introducing difficult concepts such as death and divorce. These books get children thinking and talking about issues in a way which doesn’t alarm them. You’re the best judge of your child’s maturity level and what they can handle, but it’s important to shield very young kids from concepts they’re not equipped to understand yet.
Do Some Planning
Unfortunately, many parents are like deers in the headlights when kids ask difficult questions because they’re not prepared. To avoid being caught off guard, it’s a good idea to do some planning and research so you’re ready for these conversations. Knowing what you’re going to say ahead of time will help you approach subjects calmly, which will build trust. It’s important for your child to know their concerns will be taken seriously and not brushed off. There’s nothing wrong with admitting you don’t have all the answers as communication is the most important factor when it comes to the big issues.
Encourage Curious Minds
As kids get older, their questions about big issues will become more probing as they start to develop their own moral code and belief systems. You can encourage your child to explore issues by doing research and looking at information from a range of sources. Your role is to act as a guide and ensure your child has access to quality information. Talking about what they’ve learned from different perspectives will help them develop critical thinking skills. If your child is prone to anxiety or seems to be too preoccupied with a particular issue, try to redirect them.
Take Positive Action
When older kids start to grasp the uncertainty and complexity of life, they often feel helpless. This can lead to anxiety and depression. You can help alleviate this by talking to your child about how they can make a difference. Encourage them to think about career choices that have a positive impact. While there are many things beyond their control, it’s important for kids to realise they do have some agency. This is an opportunity to discuss what’s important to them and what constitutes a meaningful life.
Talking about the big issues with kids builds resilience and character.