Talking about Difficult Topics
How to start the conversations about 'difficult' subjects that you need to have if you want to keep your children safe.
Why it's good to talk:
Our children are precious to us. We all want them to grow up in a safe and loving environment and become happy, confident adults. To get there they need to be surrounded by positive influences, good advice and the knowledge that if they ever need help and support there will be someone to talk to.
As a parent, it's you who they'll look to for help. And, as they're your child, it's up to you to talk to them when you think they might need a nudge in the right direction or to share news or information that's going to affect their lives.
Creating the right situation;
Whatever it is you want to discuss, it's important to think about where and how to talk so children will listen. There's no telling how long the conversation is going to last, so the first thing to consider is where and when you're going to start it off. And it's probably not a great idea to have it in the evening when people are tired and might not be in the mood to concentrate. Unless it's a chat you want to have with more than one child, it's also sensible to have it at a time when brothers and sisters aren't around to interrupt. It could be good to have it in a relaxed and neutral place like on a walk or a bike ride.
Starting the conversation;
It’s never easy to start a serious conversation with a child. Do it too forcefully and they may well clam up straight away. But if you take a subtler approach you can find the chat gets derailed and you're soon talking about something entirely different. There are lots of story books written specially to help when you don't know quite how to talk to children about serious subjects like death, abuse and bullying. There are different titles for different age groups and they make great starting points for you to broach a subject.
Listening to your child;
When you want to have a serious conversation with a child it can be easy to forget that it should be a two-way thing. For them to feel truly involved it's very important to show that you are listening to them and really value what they're telling you.
Start by asking questions that don't just have "yes" and "no" answers. This is going to give your child the chance to tell you what they really think. Then give them as long as they need to answer without interrupting. They may be nervous or still working out what they really think and that could take a little time. Don't be afraid to let your child ask you questions too. Be honest with them about how you feel about certain subjects and let them know about things that have happened to you in the past. It’s also really important to let them know that they can trust you to keep their confidence and that you want them to always feel they can talk to you, other people they trust or organisations like Childline, when anything is worrying them. Sometimes your child might actually come to you to talk about a concern. It’s probably taken a lot of courage to even mention it to you so you need to make them feel as comfortable as possible about continuing the conversation.
You can find this information and more on the NSPCC website, under Difficult Conversations.