How to Talk to Kids About Tough Issues: 8 Steps - MakeSureHow
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Talking things out will help your child face tough issues.

"Mommy, why is the sky blue?" "Mommy, why do birds fly?" If only all the questions your child asks you were so innocent. Unfortunately, you can't shelter him for the rest of his life. Death, injury and destruction are just a few of the issues he might face, either personally, through friends, or through the media. Your best option is to talk to your little one about the issues, not avoid them. Talking about tough topics might be one of your hardest jobs as a mom, but an open, honest approach will give your child a sense of security.


  1. 1
    Find a place and time where you can talk about the issue without any distractions. If your child asks a question about a tough topic in a busy, crowded place, you might say, "As soon as we get home, we'll get a snack and we'll talk about that."
  2. 2
    Watch your child for cues that he needs to talk. If he is upset by something, he might seem distant, shut down or more anxious than usual. He might also regress in certain behaviors, falling back into bed-wetting or sucking his thumb.
  3. 3
    Ask open-ended questions to find out how your child is feeling. You might ask, "What have you heard about that big storm?" or "How are you feeling about Grandma?"
  4. 4
    Reassure your child once you find out what her fears are. If she's afraid of a storm, explain that you don't live in a location where one like that will happen or that you have a plan if something similar was to happen in your area. If someone has died, explain to her the circumstances surrounding the death -- for example, if it was due to an illness, accident or age.
  5. 5
    Express your feelings if you're affected by the issue, but don't overreact in front of your child. Honesty is important, but if you’re a basket case, you child will pick up on that and become more agitated himself.
  6. 6
    Give general information, but don't feel you have to go into detail. If your family pet ran into the street, was hit by a car and later died, tell your little one that there was an accident and Fido died. The younger the child, the fewer details you need to include.
  7. 7
    Warn your child if a relative is ill and death is imminent. Explain the situation and help him find a way to express his feelings, whether through cards, visits or phone calls. When you explain what's going on, talk about how all things live and die. You can use a tree shedding its leaves and the leaves dying or an insect dying to make it more understandable.
  8. 8
    Speak honestly, without beating around the bush or avoiding "scary" words. If you tell your child someone who died is "sleeping," she might be afraid to go to sleep at nap or bedtime. Don't try to hide the truth from your child either. She will sense that something is going on and possibly make up her own fantasy as to what is happening.


  • Young children don't always understand tough issues and may appear unaffected by traumatic events such as death. It's important to talk to them early, though, because it lays the foundation for future discussions.

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Categories: Education and Communications

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