Although one of the amusing joys of children is their brazen honesty, sometimes their line of questioning can be uncomfortable to say the least.
The one thing you can’t do is brush them off because they will just become more insistent. So, no matter how uncomfortable the topic may be, Lysn psychologist Breanna Jayne Sada reveals the best ways to deal when your child comes up with curly questions.
How honest should you be?
Since children’s questions come from a natural curiosity about the world around them, the best thing to do is be completely honest with your child, while protecting their innocence, Breanna suggests.
“To build a trusting and honest relationship with your child it is a two way street,” she says. “Just like you'd hope that they not lie to you, it is important that we in kind do not lie to them.”
Of course, depending on what the question is, there may be some things to consider when formulating your answer but Breanna says that there’s rarely a need for outright lying.
Breanna says that the first consideration is to think about the age of your child, because the information you give to a 5 year old will be vastly different to what you tell a 14 year old.
“If we lie to our children or make it taboo to talk about sex for example, when they inevitably learn things from their friends or the media they will be reminded that this is off limits with mum and dad,” she explains.
Instead, try creating an environment where questions and open discussions are welcomed. Although this maybe uncomfortable, it’s better to foster this early on and to ensure they seek information form yourself rather than other unknown sources.
“Remember children are asking because they want to know more, would you prefer that information come from you or a less reliable source?” Breanna asks.
More sensitive topics
While you don’t want to cause your child any distress, your kids will no doubt have some questions about what they see on the news.
“I can think of a few curly questions I received following the recent attacks in Christchurch,” Breanna tells. “Again, while being age appropriate, these topics do not need to be off limits, but need to be discussed sensitively.”
One thing Breanna says is good to do, no matter what age the child is, is to ensure they know they can come to you with any other future questions about the issue.
Since each child will react in a different way, she also suggests checking back in with the child at a later date – even if they seemed fine at the time – so you can touch base and open up discussion again.
“Modelling how to deal with difficult information and emotions important as this is not taught explicitly,” Breanna says. “So, discussions like, ‘When I am sad this makes me feel better,’ or, 'When I am mad this helps me calm down,’ are great ways to assist them process difficult information and emotions.”
While these strategies are helpful, Breanna admits there is no black and white answer when it comes to dealing with those curly questions. However, she does say that no matter what the situation, remain calm, because while your child may not remember every detail of your conversation, they will certainly remember the way you react.