Monday, March 28, 2011

Answering the Tough Questions

The tough questions. The questions every parent dreads. You know- the birds and the bees. What happens when you die? Why doesn't my sister have a pee pee? What's the F-word? Here's a quick guide so that you won't get caught off guard! 

1. Keep answers simple and age appropriate – What a 3 year-old wants or needs to know about where babies come from is very different from what an 8 year-old wants or needs to know about the same topic. Though it might be easy and tempting to launch into an all-out medical explanation with your preschooler, your 3 year-old will likely be satisfied with a simple answer such as ‘they come from mommies’ tummies.’

2. If you’re not sure how to answer, lead with ‘Great question. What do you think?’ – This buys you a little time and lets you find out what your child already knows about the topic, which will help you tailor your answer to what your child is really asking.

3. Don’t lie – Especially with older children/teens and topics such as drug and alcohol use, your adolescents can smell a rat from a mile away and lying will only cause you to lose your credibility with your children. Instead, handle these questions with the truth coupled with the negative consequences you encountered by engaging in such activities.

4. Find out what your child is really asking – By asking him questions (e.g., ‘Tell me a little more about what you’re thinking.’ ‘What made you think of that?’) Many times when children ask about difficult topics such as death or mom and dad fighting, they are really just looking for empathy. Show sensitivity by identifying with your child’s emotions, whether s/he is sad, scared, or angry.

How do you handle the tough questions? 


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