Dr. Chinwe Williams, a licensed professional counselor, shares age-appropriate tips on how to talk about crisis to a child or adolescent on today’s episode of the Parent Cue Live podcast. This is the final podcast in a two-part series.
- Don’t overwhelm your kids with information. In our desire to be transparent, sometimes we tell our kids too much. Take into consideration their age and level of understanding before sharing.
- Spend time outdoors. Spending time in nature has a grounding, calming effect and often makes kids feel safer. Make sure to spend time together outdoors and initiate conversations.
- Set up regular family time. Time spent together as a family tends to nurture open communication. Whether it’s a weekly family game night or going hiking together, use that time to ask your children about what they’ve been feeling and experiencing lately.
So say you have noticed these changes in your kid. Now what?
Communicate with your child
Communication is the most important step in recognizing and handling when your kid is in a crisis, Dr. Williams shares. But that sounds easier said than done for most parents—whether you have a preschool-aged kid who is just mastering talking or a high schooler who’d rather talk to anyone but you, talking and understanding each other is difficult on the best days.
That’s why age-appropriate, open-ended communication is something parents must foster with their children. For younger kids, you can ask them to draw you a picture about how they’re feeling, or engage them in play. For adolescents, you’ll likely have to initiate the conversation again and again. If you’re getting nowhere with a direct approach, ask them how their friends are handling unsettling current events, etc. to open the door for personal feelings.
Above all, Dr. Williams says, with teens, parents should remember to be encouraging and not pushy.
“As a parent, we want what’s best for our children,” Dr. Williams says. “Sometimes the urge for parents is to push too hard and that has the opposite effect of what they’re really desiring.”
Tune in to the podcast to learn more about how to initiate tough conversations and important resources available to you and your kids.