How to talk to your child about tough topics

Do you remember when you were young and had tough topics you wanted to talk to your parent or caregiver about?  Sometimes it is important to reflect on those times and realize your child is going through them too. Today, we posted an article on our SOVA site (for adolescents) about talking to their parents using the listed tips below. We think they are also good tips for parents!


1. Decide your goal before you start talking.

Knowing ahead of time what you want to get out of your conversation can help you stay calm and prevent the conversation from leading down a different path. You may want specific advice, or you may just want to be listened to without judgement. Either way, being prepared can help you and your child stick to what will be most beneficial for you.

2. Recognize your feelings and be upfront about them.

More often than not hard subjects are hard because of the emotion behind them. You could be worried about how your child will react or that you will get into an argument. The best way to deal with those feelings is to be honest about them. For example, you could say, “I need to talk to you, but I’m afraid you will get upset, and I don’t want that to happen.” By letting your child know that you are concerned about their feelings, and not just lecturing them, they can be better equipped to listen, and you can know that you are being heard.

3. Pick a good time to talk.

Just as being calm yourself can help when approaching a difficult talk, things will go more smoothly if your child is calm as well. Try to find a time when your child is not in a situation where talking to them might make them feel embarrassed – like in a public place or with their friends around. Try spending time together – just the two of you – without others around. Taking a walk around the neighborhood is a great idea. If you are unsure about a good time, tell your child that you need to talk and ask when would be a good time for them.


Overall, thoughtful planning is what will help you the most when discussing something difficult with a parent. By following these steps, you will give you and your child the best shot at working through it together.

Do you think these are helpful tips? Or do you have more tips for people talking about difficult topics? Tell us about them!

You can also read more tips for teens in general and about difficult topics at

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