Speaking To Your Child About Uncomfortable Topics…

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Expat Kids

Photo courtesy of Shermeee

Your preschooler is at an inquisitive age and seems to want to know all those questions that you are not prepared to answer: Where do babies come from, why do girls and boys have different body parts, why was the news talking about someone getting killed, or even why do some people have no home? These are just a few examples among a hundred questions your child may have. Now how to answer these questions may be difficult, especially when keeping a child innocent has become more and more difficult in the age we live in. Here are a few tips that may be helpful:

  • Always be honest. Now this may sound strange, but remember you are the role model for your child, the one he trusts. If you lie and he figures it out, you have broken that trust and now your child may look for answers from less positive influences. You don’t have to tell the entire truth, but rather a modified acceptable version for a preschooler to hear (example: Mommy how do the babies get out of your belly? Answer: That’s what doctors do. They take the babies out for the mommies. Some mommies have their bellies cut, and some don’t) As long as you have answered the question honestly, when the child gets older he can come to you for the longer extended version of the answer when he is older.
  • Never freak out. Now when your child overhears a word that is inappropriate like “sex” and comes to you and asks you what it means, your first reaction may be to wash his mouth out with soap and put him in time out. Remember chances are the child heard the word on the street and has no idea what it means. Ask him what it means and when he does not know you can let him know that certain words are inappropriate or bathroom words and should not be used. You can let him know that we should not use words that we don’t understand and let him know that the word he said was a grown up word and should not be used by a child. This way you have addressed what the word is but have not made the child feel that he cannot come to you.
  • Never blame other children. Remember children speak and tell each other all sorts of things when parents are not around. Remember not every parent will monitor their child’s television or mind that they say certain things. Some parents even choose to tell their children the detailed truth on every topic. What you need to remember is that whatever the reason your child is friends with this child and they will speak. By telling your child, “Don’t play with Tommy” you are just making Tommy more interesting. You also cannot tell Tommy’s parents how to parent because that is none of your business. What you can do, is listen to what Tommy has told your child and let him know fact from fiction. Let him know what you deem appropriate and not. By doing this, your child will start to see that what Tommy has told him is inaccurate and he may lose interest in what he has to say. If Tommy is really saying inappropriate things, it would also help to speak to the teachers without your child knowing. This way they can address the problem and your child’s trust is not compromised.

Remember you want your child to feel comfortable enough to come to you with any and all questions. You want to be his resource from the start so that as he gets older you will continue to be that guide for him. Stay calm, cool, and collected and get ready for those conversations!

For further reading:
How to speak with your child about sex from MedicineNet.com

How to speak openly with your teen: from the National Association of Therapeutic Schools and Programs

About Internet Safety from the BBC

Talking to Your Child About Menstruation

Talking to Kids about Inappropriate Touching