Friday, 30 July 2021

How To Break Bad News To Children

At some point, all parents will have to give bad or sad news to their children. Whether it’s the death of a family pet, divorce, or the death of a family member, it can be hard to know how best to break the news.

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This is a challenging task for any parent who wants to protect their child from feeling bad. Here’s how you can do it. 

Be Honest

Give your child the facts in an age-appropriate way. Younger children might need some help to understand what it means for them. For example, tackling the subject of death or loss might mean you have to explain what death means. Use words that they can understand and be careful about using euphemisms to soften the blow. This sounds nice, but they can leave children feeling confused about what has actually happened.  

For teenagers, it is important not to keep any details from them, as this can feel to them as though you are being dishonest or patronising.

Be Prepared To Answer Their Questions

Children want their questions answered. Children who are able to get access to the information that they want and need from their parents in difficult times tend to feel much more satisfied than those who feel as though they are unable to ask their parents any questions about bad news they have been given. Make sure you set aside some time for children to talk to you about what has happened and to think about what they want to ask you, and for you to have the time to consider the answers you can give them. Have these conversations when you have time to discuss things properly, whether you’re talking about why you’re getting divorced or explaining what will happen if your child has to come with you to the funeral directors

Be prepared for difficult questions and be ready to answer them if you can. If you can’t answer a question, it is okay to tell your child that you don’t know the answer, rather than over-complicate an explanation and confuse.

Respect Their Ability To Cope With The News, And Their Right To Hear It

Nobody likes to feel as though they are being talked down to. Children whose parents talk to them as though they’re equals will feel respected and trusted and are likely to be able to respond with more maturity in a difficult situation. It can be tempting to keep bad news from children to protect them, but in reality, this approach can do more harm than good and leave children sad and confused without knowing why. 

Provide Reassurance

Parents need to provide comfort and reassurance to their children in stressful or upsetting times. Let them know it is ok to feel whatever they are feeling about the situation, whether they feel sad, angry, or relieved. Let them know that these emotions are all valid responses to the news. Let them know that you will always try to answer any questions or talk about the situation again at any time. Remind them that they are loved.

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