Tools for Families and Schools

10 Tips for Talking with Your Kids About Tough Issues

1. Start early.

As a parent, you have a wonderful opportunity to talk with your child about these issues first, before anyone else can confuse your child with incorrect information or explanations that lack the sense of values you want to instill.


2. Initiate conversations with your child.

Just one or two questions could help start a valuable discussion that comes from everyday circumstances and events. Children of varied ages are usually at different developmental levels, which means that they need different information, have different sensitivities and require different vocabularies.


3. Listen to your child.

Listening carefully also helps you understand what your children really want to know as well as what they already understand. Listening to them and taking their feelings into account will also tell you when they’ve had enough information for the time being.


4. Address any fears.

Don’t dismiss a child’s fears. Children can feel embarrassed or criticized when their fears are minimized. Exploring the issues and positive ways of coping help children master their fears and anxiety.


5. Create an open environment.

By being encouraging, supportive and positive, kids accept, “I don’t know,” and “Let’s go find out,” and these are better responses than any inaccurate or misleading answers you might be tempted to offer.


6. Communicate your own values.

Research shows that children want and need moral guidance from their parents and caregivers so don’t hesitate to make your beliefs clear.


7. Try to be honest.

Honesty is what strengthens children’s ability to trust. When they don’t get a straightforward answer, they make up their own fantasy explanations, which can be more frightening than any real, honest response that we offer.


8. Be patient.

By listening patiently, children can think through issues at their own pace and we send a message that they are worthy of our time.


9. Use everyday opportunities to talk.

If we use moments as they arise in everyday life, our children will be a lot less likely to tune us out.


10. Talk about it again and again.

Children and youth won’t learn all they need to know about a particular topic from a single discussion, and they often ask questions again and again, over time. Being prepared, tolerant, patient and persistent will serve you and your children well.

You can start talking to your kids about:

  • what sexual exploitation is
  • what online sexual exploitation is
  • what a recruiter does
  • what a pimp is
  • how people get caught up in the sex industry and how hard it is to get out
  • the music that they listen to and how some songs glorify pimps and perpetuate an unrealistic view of the sex industry
  • the realities of sex work and that it is nothing like the movie “Pretty Woman”
  • how the sex industry does not discriminate and that boys are just as vulnerable as girls
  • not using words like ho, hooker, pimping, pimp slap

Don’t be surprised at how much your children already know and be open to learning from them.