How to Talk With Children About Difficult Topics


Talking with children about difficult topics can be challenging for adults. It can be even harder for some children to understand and communicate their thoughts and feelings about certain subjects. It is important to be patient and understanding, and to keep the lines of communication open at all times.

    • 1 Have the conversation in a comfortable and known environment if possible, such as the home. This will help keep both the adult and child a little more relaxed. Keep it private as well, so interruptions will be minimal and both of you can feel assured that your conversation is just between the two of you, and not anyone else.

    • 2 Begin the conversation as soon as the situation calls for it. Don't delay, or it will be harder for you to discuss. Whether it is a conversation about sex, death and dying, or other difficult topics, the more you wait, the larger the disservice you are doing to your children.

    • 3 Encourage your child to express his feelings and to ask questions. Be sure and listen carefully to them and be open regarding what they may say. Any negative responses may discourage the child from continuing to talk and ask questions. Let them talk as much as you do, or more so, if needed. This way it will be a two-way conversation instead of a lecture.

    • 4 Educate the child as best as you can. If your difficult topic is about sex, be honest and truthful in your talk. Give her facts and figures if needed. You may consider educating yourself beforehand so that you are more prepared. If your difficult topic is death, again, be honest in your discussion. If you don't know the answer to a question, assure them you will find that answer, if possible.

    • 5 Plan a followup discussion. Talking with a child about difficult topics is not likely to be done in one sitting. Breaking it up is best. You may think of other things to say after the fact, and your child may later come with questions or concerns. Let them know they are always welcome to come to you to talk anytime they want, but perhaps setting up a time to get together in the future and talk will help encourage them to think of things before that time.