Having the conversation with your child:
- Find a good time and place. Try to choose a good moment. Pick an opportunity when you know you’re not going to be interrupted and you are both going to feel comfortable and have enough time – without turning it into one of those ‘special talks’ moments.
- Think about how you are going to introduce the subject. You could mention a recent news story or just explain why you would like to talk to them about something. Try to be clear. It’s no good having a difficult conversation if at the end of it they don’t really understand what you wanted to talk to them about.
- Explain to them why you are worried. Your child might think that you are getting worried for no good reason, but if you explain why something is troubling you they will understand why you want to talk to them. Tell them if it is something you’ve noticed in their behaviour or maybe something you have read about or seen their friends doing. Help them to understand your worries so that together you can work them out.
- Let them talk. It’s hard sometimes when a child doesn’t want to open up. Asking them a question like ‘how are things going’ and remembering to give them time to answer will help. It’s tempting to keep talking at them to fill the space – try not to.
- Listen more than you talk. A conversation has to have two people in it. It’s important you listen to them and that you explain you’d like them to listen to you. Talking at them is never going to work.
- Be loving and supportive. The most difficult conversations can be made easier if your child understands that you care about them and whatever the outcome you will love them just as much.