Talking to Kids (12 and under)

It may be important to talk to your kids, but a lot of parents are confused about how, exactly, to go about it. What do you talk to them about? How do you bring these things up? When do you start having these conversations?

How To Start The Conversation

Use lots of little conversations, rather than a big “Talk.” 

  • Repetition helps your child remember and place value on the things you talk about. If you seem comfortable with the topic, your kids are much more likely to listen to you than if it’s a horribly awkward experience they wish they could forget. Little conversations also let you cover age-appropriate topics rather than throwing everything at the child at once.

Start early.

  • You don’t have to wait until your child is taking health class at school to begin talking to them about their body and relationships. Teaching children about healthy ways to approach sexuality can start as young as two years old, when you start teaching the names of body parts.

Pick a comfortable, private place to talk.

  • Make sure the location is somewhere your child feels comfortable. They will be much more engaged if they feel okay asking questions and aren’t fidgeting from nerves. To minimize distraction and discomfort, try to find a private place where you will not be interrupted by others, be it your living room or a car.

Use language they can understand.

  • Remember that your child may not have the full scope of vocabulary you do. Try to use the correct names and terms and be prepared to explain anything your child may not understand. Be patient, and remember that it is more important that your child understands what you are trying to say instead of ending the conversation quickly.

Use concrete examples.

  • Especially at a young age, children often have problems understanding vague or abstract concepts. Make sure to have a real-world example to back up whatever you are talking about. “What if” questions are a great way to do this: “What if you are at a friend’s house and her older brother asks you to play a game that means you take off your clothes?"

Be engaged in your child’s life.

  • The more involved you are in your child’s life the more likely you are to know if something is bothering them. By asking about school or club activities and listening to the responses they give, you show your child you care about them and they can talk to you.

Be available and approachable; treat your child with respect.

  • If you are trying to make sure your child comes to you with questions or problems, make yourself available to them when they are ready to talk. Make time to talk to your child and give them your full attention. If your child brings up a problem, believe them and trust them.