How to Talk About Difficult Topics with Your Children

talking about difficult topics

As a parent, I strive to create a safe and nurturing environment for my children, where they can grow and thrive. But I know that life isn’t always smooth sailing, and there are difficult topics that we need to address together. Recently, we had to have a conversation about a sensitive subject, and I was unsure how to approach it.

One evening, as we gathered around the dinner table, I noticed my oldest daughter, Emily, seemed distant and preoccupied. Concerned, I gently asked her if something was bothering her. She hesitated for a moment and then confided in me that one of her friends at school had been talking about a scary event that had happened near their neighborhood.

My heart sank as I listened to her describe her fears and worries. I realized that it was crucial for me to talk to Emily about difficult topics and help her navigate her emotions. I wanted to provide her with reassurance, accurate information, and a safe space to express her concerns.

I took a deep breath and began by acknowledging her feelings. I assured her that it was okay to be scared and that her emotions were valid. Then, I asked her what she already knew about the situation, allowing her to share her thoughts and impressions. As she spoke, I listened attentively, making mental notes of which areas needed clarification or further discussion.

Next, I shared my own thoughts and feelings with Emily, emphasizing that we were in this together. I wanted her to know that I was there to support her and address any questions or concerns she had. It was important for me to be honest yet age-appropriate in my explanations, so I chose my words carefully.

Throughout our conversation, I made sure to emphasize that our family’s love and safety were unwavering. We discussed safety protocols and highlighted the measures in place to protect our well-being. I also reassured her that many caring individuals, like teachers and first responders, were working to keep us safe.

As our dialogue came to a close, I could see a sense of relief wash over Emily’s face. By addressing the difficult topic head-on, we had not only alleviated her fears but also reinforced our bond as a family.

Talking about difficult topics with our children is one of the most important responsibilities we have as parents. It helps them feel supported, valued, and equipped to face challenging situations. In the following sections, I will share strategies for initiating these conversations, as well as valuable parenting advice to ensure our children’s emotional well-being.

Why it’s good to talk about tough topics with children

Talking openly and honestly with children about tough topics is essential for their emotional and mental wellbeing. Discussing difficult subjects such as divorce, illness, death, or natural disasters helps children feel heard, understood, and supported. It also allows parents to instill their values and beliefs, and helps children develop problem-solving and communication skills.

Encouraging open communication creates a foundation of trust between parents and children, fostering a safe space for them to express their thoughts, fears, and concerns. When children feel comfortable talking about tough topics, it can alleviate their anxiety and uncertainty. It also strengthens the parent-child bond and promotes a sense of security and stability in the child’s life.

Approaching these conversations depends on the child’s age and understanding. Younger children may need simpler explanations, while older children can grasp more complex emotions. It is important for parents to speak honestly and authentically, using age-appropriate language and being open to answering their children’s questions.

Planning ahead for these conversations can help parents navigate sensitive topics with confidence. Finding the right moment to talk, ensuring a quiet and uninterrupted environment, and using conversation starters like storybooks or past events can facilitate the discussion. By preparing in advance, parents can also manage their own emotions and address any concerns they may have.

By addressing tough topics with children, parents not only support their children’s emotional wellbeing but also provide them with essential life skills. Open and honest communication fosters resilience, empathy, and problem-solving abilities. It equips children with the tools they need to navigate the challenges they may encounter, both in childhood and later in life.

The Benefits of Talking About Tough Topics with Children

  • Helps children feel heard, understood, and supported
  • Establishes a foundation of trust and open communication
  • Instills values and beliefs in children
  • Develops problem-solving and communication skills
  • Fosters resilience and coping abilities
  • Promotes empathy and understanding

Talking about tough topics with children is an important aspect of their overall wellbeing. Engaging in open and honest conversations helps children feel safe, nurtured, and empowered to navigate life’s challenges. It is a valuable investment in their emotional and mental growth, strengthening the parent-child bond while equipping them with the necessary skills for a successful future.

Supporting children’s fears without promising everything will be OK

When children express fears or anxieties, it is important for parents to address their concerns without making false promises. Instead of guaranteeing safety, I focus on the present moment and reassure my children that they are safe at that moment. I talk to them about safety protocols and our family plans in case of emergencies, emphasizing the measures in place to keep them safe. By doing so, I aim to provide them with a sense of security and control over their environment.

To help children manage their fears, I teach them coping skills. I introduce grounding techniques, such as taking deep breaths or engaging in sensory activities, to help them feel more grounded and present. I also encourage them to express their emotions by writing in a journal or talking about their feelings. These coping skills empower children to navigate their fears and anxieties and develop resilience.

As a parent, it is crucial for me to acknowledge my own discomfort and uncertainty when discussing tough topics with my children. By being open about my own emotions, I can model healthy ways of coping and demonstrate that it is normal to feel uncertain or scared. This helps create a safe space for my children to express their own emotions without judgment or fear of burdening me.

For additional support, I make use of available resources such as tip sheets on addressing children’s fears and seeking professional help when needed. These resources provide valuable insights and strategies for navigating difficult conversations and ensuring the emotional well-being of my children.


How do I talk to my child about difficult topics?

It is important to plan what you want to say, find a quiet moment to talk, ask your child what they already know, share your feelings, and provide reassurance and support.

Why is it important to talk about tough topics with children?

Talking about tough topics establishes trust, helps children develop problem-solving and communication skills, and allows parents to impart their values and beliefs.

How should I approach these conversations based on my child’s age?

Younger children may need simpler explanations, while older children can grasp more complex emotions. Using storybooks or past events as conversation starters can be helpful.

How do I address my child’s fears or anxieties?

Address their concerns without making false promises by focusing on the present moment, talking about safety protocols and family plans, and teaching coping skills.

How can I model healthy ways of coping with difficult emotions?

Acknowledge your own discomfort and uncertainty, and seek professional help if needed. Resources like tip sheets and professional help are available for further support.