How to Address Big Topics with Little Kids

It’s been a challenging year, with a lot of significant changes for parents and children alike. But a global pandemic isn’t the only big topic in a lot of people’s lives – you may have brought a new child into the world or said goodbye to a loved one; you may have moved to a new neighbourhood or started a new job.

There are so many big events we experience in life, which is why the daycare teachers at Learning Tree Apollo wanted to share how we approach big topics when talking to our tamariki.

Communicate clearly and avoid euphemisms

If you want, or need, to discuss a difficult topic with a preschooler, it’s important to communicate in a way your child will understand. At our childcare centre, we try to avoid euphemisms that act only to confuse children. They don’t know what “flew the coop” or “passed away” means. Instead, we use clear language that the children will understand instead of glossing over reality with idioms.

Be reassuring

Even if you’re talking about something scary or sad, it’s helpful to reassure your little one that they and they people they love are safe. If a grandparent has died, you might want to explain that it doesn’t mean anyone else they love will die, too. And if the topic is positive, like a new sibling or moving to a new house, reassure them that you will keep things as normal and predictable as possible during the transition period.

Fall back on physical expression

When it comes to young children, there’s really nothing like a good hug! While your words will say a lot, especially with older childcare aged children who are building a vocabulary of their own, physical communication is still such a comfort. A hug or high five, a snuggle or a pat on the back can all help make children feel calm, at ease and safe.

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Address everybody’s emotions

We love to talk about feelings at our Learning Tree – they’re such a big part of our lives! Words like happy, sad, scared, and mad help children understand that the big feelings they are experiencing are a normal part of life and labelling them correctly will help them learn to express themselves. It’s also great to share your emotions, showing them that adults have big feelings, too.

Rely on books

Books are a great way to address difficult concepts with children. While some are simply fun to read, others use child-appropriate language and stories to relay a deeper message. If there’s a particular topic you’d like to address with your children, your Learning Tree childcare teachers will have some good recommendations on which books can help.

Whether you want to explain lockdown or preparing to move house, we hope our childcare centre’s tips on talking about big topics with your little people has helped.