Tips for having difficult conversations with your child

Communication can sometimes feel like it should be the most straightforward thing in the world – and yet it rarely is. This is especially true when you’re trying to have difficult conversations with your children. Knowing how to do this with children and teens can be tricky – but why? And how can you know how to communicate with your kids in the best way possible? We have collected some top tips for having difficult conversations to help.

Why it can be difficult to have conversations with teens

Once your child becomes a teenager, they crave more independence, which leads to encountering more mature situations in daily life. As they grow and change, it’s imperative to discuss topics that might cause embarrassment, which makes such subjects difficult to surface. Teens may avoid you if they sense an embarrassing conversation is coming, and they may simply wish to keep some things private. This can make these talks even more difficult, and volatile emotions can lead to arguments.

Opening the dialogue

Sometimes, beginning a conversation on a difficult topic can be the most challenging part. Thinking about what challenging topics you may need to discuss can help. Preparing for conversations about puberty, relationships, or independence can help you when the time comes for discussion.

Whether you or your child opens the dialogue, ensure you take it to a quiet and calm space and spend as much time discussing as needed.

Let them share their thoughts and feelings

While it can be easy to turn a challenging discussion into a lecture, it’s important to let your child speak. Allow them to air their thoughts and feelings by asking leading questions and leaving them space to process and respond. Even if they are not initially receptive, don’t be tempted to speak for them, or guess what they might be thinking.

Stay calm and don’t judge

When you are discussing difficult subjects, you want to encourage honesty. If you do this and then immediately become judgemental or angry, this will not only ruin a single conversation – it could damage the trust between you and your child. Instead, keep a calm outward appearance and listen without judgement as much as possible. 

It’s okay to admit that you are shocked by something, but you can do this in a supportive way. This will encourage them to speak to you openly and honestly in future, without fear of upsetting you.

Offer support and advice

Once you have had a difficult discussion, it is important to provide support to your child. This may come in the form of practical advice and ideas about what their next steps might be, or simply offering them reassurances that they can always come to you in the future with similar issues and concerns. 

Going forward, you should try to keep your communication as open as possible daily, so that the difficult conversations feel a little less out of the blue.

Some conversations you need to have with your children will inevitably be more challenging than others. Armed with these tips for difficult conversations, you should be able to engage more comfortably in talks about tricky topics.


If you found this article helpful, you might also like Helping teens set positive goals for the new year.

No Comments

Sorry, the comment form is closed at this time.