Talking to your child about their feelings, relationships and changing body is important. Building good channels of communication throughout childhood can help your child to communicate with you as future issues of increasing seriousness arise.
Your child needs to know that it's OK to talk, and that you're happy to talk. They will learn this through your body language, tone and manner when you talk so try to behave as you would in any other topic of conversation.
Below are simple strategies to make talking about feelings, relationships and the body more comfortable:
✔ Start by talking about something that you both find comfortable, such as feelings and emotions.
✔ Ask your child what they think their friends know/think about the topic, as this provides a way to talk about your child’s views indirectly.
✔ Avoid ‘The Chat’. Talk about these topics little and often over everyday events like playing, drawing, whilst driving in the car or watching TV. This can help to normalise the conversation, easing uncomfortable feelings.
✔ Reading a story book containing relevant content is a helpful way to stimulate discussion with your child.
✔ Don’t leave it too late. Start talking about relevant topics before you feel your child is approaching a level of curiosity about it, so you establish strong channels of communication in readiness.
✔ Be prepared to listen. Your child will want to have their voice heard without feeling judged.
Feeling listened to will encourage your child to talk about issues in the future.
✔ If your child asks you a question you are not sure how to answer, don’t panic! Let them know that you will answer it at another time, making sure you remember to. Sometimes a simple answer can provide a sufficient response.
✔ Try to listen calmly, even if what they say surprises or concerns you. Remember that it is good that they are comfortable to discuss issues with you. They need to trust that you will not respond negatively.
Make sure your child knows they can always talk to you anytime, about anything.