A child or adolescent may bring up a sensitive issue with you, or an event may prompt you to speak with the children you work with. You may not always be able to plan ahead for these conversations because they may occur unexpectedly. If you have time to prepare for a conversation, it can help you feel more comfortable raising and addressing difficult topics.
Whether you were able to plan the conversation ahead of time or not, reflecting on what was said afterward can help you learn and improve for the next time. Whatever has upset a child or young person, it is critical that they have someone with whom they can have an open discussion.
There are some general principles that will help you discuss sensitive topics with children and young people, whether you're speaking to a group or an individual.
Make them feel at ease.
Recognize that the subject is difficult to discuss, but explain why it is necessary.
Demonstrate that you're paying attention.
Encourage children to speak up and demonstrate that you value their opinions.
Allow them some time.
Allow children to speak at their own pace; do not force them to say more than they wish.
Be open and truthful.
Encourage youngsters and teenagers to ask questions. Answer them as honestly as possible while keeping their age and emotional maturity in mind.
Use the proper language.
Ascertain that children understand the terminology associated with the topic and that it is appropriate for their age.
Be specific about confidentiality.
It is critical that children feel comfortable sharing their experiences with you. However, if you have any concerns about their well-being, you must report them in accordance with your child protection procedures.
Recognize the warning signs
Talking about difficult or upsetting topics may cause some children to reflect on other events in their lives.
How to have difficult conversations with children. NSPCC Learning. (n.d.). Retrieved October 17, 2022, from https://learning.nspcc.org.uk/safeguarding-child-protection/how-to-have-difficult-conversations-with-children#skip-to-content