Sadly, all families come to a point when something bad happens, and they need to deal with an unpleasant or even devastating event.

For many it can be divorce, or worse, a death in the family. A family member may have a life-threatening disease, and may not have long to live.

As well, some people suffer from mental illness, which will impact not only their life, but the lives of other family members too.

Coping with these changes to our lives and the impact it can have on us mentally and physically can be difficult enough for adults, but how do you help our children cope?

How can you explain what is going on? How can they begin to understand the ramifications of what this issue will mean to them right now, and in the future?

How Do You Talk to Your Children About Negative Issues?

Reading books to children is a great way to discuss important topics

Children’s books about illness or mental health, for example, are written to help you open up the discussion.

Many tell a story about a single child’s experience. They go into detail about how the child felt, and how they reacted.

They explain how she or he might have felt sad, angry or even mad; and these are normal reactions.

The character goes through a roller coaster ride, and asks lots of questions; and, this is normal too.

He or she might feel lost or abandoned at first, but over time they come to a greater understanding of their place in the world.

And, this is fundamentally the most important function these books achieve.

They demonstrate that eventually the pain goes away, and understanding slowly takes its place. That the child will still remain safe, and importantly, loved.

What Should You Do After You’ve Read the Book?

Drawing pictures is a great way for children to express their feelings

Don’t put the book down and walk away. Instead, sit quietly and allow the impact of the story to sink in.

Close the book and tell your child that this story is very similar to the one your family are facing.

Ask your child if they liked the character or understood how the character behaved.

Do they feel the same way?

Is there anything they would have done differently?

Offer to take them for a walk or sit down and draw a picture together.

Often physical activity can help a troubled soul open up and talk more.

What If My Child Doesn’t Want to Talk?

Give children time to talk about their feelings by developing your relationship with them and being open to listen anytime they need.

Not all children are capable of expressing their ideas or feelings, and that’s okay.

It takes time and practice, so don’t be disappointed if they don’t want to talk about the book after you’ve finished reading it.

Rather than push them, give the ideas you’ve presented to them to be absorbed. It’s okay to just sit with our feelings sometimes.

When your child is ready to talk, stop what you are doing and allow them to lead the conversation.

Don’t interrupt or try to put words in their mouth.

Don’t ask questions that have a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ answer.

Instead, ask ‘how’ and ‘what’ questions that allow the child to dig deeper and let go of any negative thoughts they might be having.

You should also be prepared to have this conversation over and over again, as your child looks for confirmation and reassurance from you.

About Susan Day

Susan Day is a passionate author, educator, and a grandmother. She wants to empower all grandparents to build meaningful relationships with their grandchildren.

Susan Day is a passionate author, educator, and a grandmother. She wants to empower all grandparents to build meaningful relationships with their grandchildren. Discover here the Top 10 Things Happy Grandparents Never Regret Doing.

Also, her blog, Astro’s Adventures Book Club, is full of ideas and tips for grandparents who want to build a strong relationship with their grandchildren through reading and sharing books.

Susan lives in country Australia with four dogs, three bossy cats, three rescue guinea pigs, and an errant kangaroo.

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Suzi Faed Author Avatar

Hello& welcome to my blog, What If Warrior

Here you will find my multi-topic blog, told from my humble point of view. I write from the heart; for me, self-expression comes easier through written words. If you would like to read more about my inspiration for this blog, click here.