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How to Talk to Kids about Tough Topics

Learn how to talk to kids about tough topics in this Howcast video about child anxiety issues.


Hi. I'm going to talk to you about how to talk to your kids about tough topics. The two important things about that are "What's a tough topic?" and the other thing is "Talk." A tough topic may be anything that's in the news, difficult in your life, one of those hot-button issues that you think are kind of just hard to bring up with your child. But the real important thing is you need to talk. You are the best source of information for your children, and also they really do trust you, and they need to hear it from you, because at the end of the day, you want to communicate your values, you want to communicate the information, and you want to communicate that you are somebody your child can go to with questions and feelings.

One thing you want to do is first, just get it out there in the open. You may just bring it up casually, saying, "You know, I've seen this in the news. Have any of your friends been talking about it?" Other times, you need to be direct and say, "You know what? I needed to talk to you about something that's going on in the family or in our life right now." And then talk, but also listen. First, you want to hear what does your child - any age child, young, as well as teenager - knows or thinks, and you want to then base your response and your answers directed to what they are having on their mind and what they are questioning or worried about or thinking about. You also want to give information in an age-appropriate way, using appropriate language as well. You want to be honest. You want to use the right words whenever possible. But again, you might say, "There was an accident," and with a child that's older, you may be talking about some details maybe about a car crash or about something else that happened, but again, the real words, so they start to have that vocabulary, and also because they're going to be hearing the adults around them talking, and they don't want to be confused. You want to make sure you have more than one conversation. It's not just get the information out and you're done. It's being open and being inquisitive and being curious about what your child is thinking as they go on and get more information or are dealing with their feelings.

So again talk about the information as well as how you're feeling, and then talk about how to deal with how you're feeling about whatever is going on. If it's something in the news, if it's something in school, if it's something in the family, how are we going to cope with this? We're going to talk about how we cope with it, and we're going to give each other help and talk about how to manage it, whether it's through activities, whether it's through writing, whether it's through art, whether it's through talking, whether it's through being with friends. It's not just talking. It's coping, and then dealing with whatever it is that's tough to make it a little easier.

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