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Talk about the big issues

There’s a lot going on in the world right now, not all of it nice. You child may already know bits about the issues or not, but they will see something eventually.

Children ask questions, lots of them. Some of them are easy to answer, some you may need to google, and some are very difficult.

It is important that when your child talks to you about something they heard or have seen, be it about the virus or ‘why can’t I see my friends?’ or about why people are protesting or about a family issue, you should answer them properly.

These questions are not just about satisfying a curiosity they might be something that is worrying them.

When kids reach 7 or 8 they start to see the news a bit more. CBBC is one of the most popular channels for children aged 7-11 and it has its own news show, rightly so. Children do understand and have a right to be informed.

Here are some tips for talking about the big issues.

Ask questions

When a child asks you a difficult question find out what they know so far and fill in any gaps. This is an important step and might be enough for them at that time. Depending on their age you might want to give them more context and make sure they understand before they wander off to the next thing. Ask them what they think about the situation if a child can make an observation or opinion it shows a level of understanding.

Get on their level

Many of these topics are complicated even for adults. Take your time, explain any complex words you need to use, and don’t get angry. Even if your child says something incorrect or asks a particularly ignorant question, remember that they are a child. Answer everything and make sure they feel safe asking lots of questions.

Be honest, but not brutal

This can be a difficult line to tread and maybe the biggest reason people feel uncomfortable talking to children about certain issues. Don’t lie but also try not to upset them. Look for positives but be honest about these too. ‘Things are getting better, but it won’t be normal for a while yet’ is a good way to reassure your child without lying.

Think critically

Critical thinking is an excellent and important skill you should impart upon your child. Encourage your child to think and talk about bigger issues with you, it can even help your own understanding of the issue.

Don’t ambush your child with the issue, wait until they’re ready. Sometimes you might need to make sure they know something and that is okay, ask them to sit down and talk to you.

You should feel confident talking to your child about any issue and be able to empower them with knowledge and thinking skills that will help them as they grow up.