The Revolution: How To Tell Kids Bad News
Dr. Tiffanie Davis Henry recalled that this week’s Revolution Hero, Jenny Cahalan, struggled to communicate with her adolescent son about her cancer diagnosis. Earlier in her Revolution, Dr. Tiffanie helped Jenny consider How To Talk With Her Son about her feelings.
Dr. Jennifer Ashton said talking to children about serious health issues or other bad news. The doctors of The Revolution shared advice about how to deliver bad news and have serious conversations with children of all ages.
The Revolution: How To Give Kids Bad News
Dr. Jennifer’s mother is a pediatric nurse and she gave her daughter some pointers to share with the audience. She said the first thing to do is make your child sit down, so they can focus on the topic at hand.
Dr. Jennifer said it’s especially important to bring kids up to your eye level. Let them sit on a bed or counter so they’re eye to eye with you for the conversation. Dr. Tiffanie Davis Henry said getting on the same level as your child can help you see the world from their perspective.
The Revolution: Age Appropriate Vocabulary
Dr. Tiffanie said this works with young children as well as teens. Getting on the same level, either figuratively or literally, can lead to great conversations.
Next, Dr. Jennifer said you want to make your remarks age appropriate, using vocabulary that will make sense to the child at their age.
Kids 6 And Under
Dr. Tiffanie said that children age six and younger take things literally, so you have to be careful about your words so they don’t get confused. Remind younger children that they’re not responsible for whatever is going on in your life.
Kids Age 7 to 11
Children ages 7 to 11 are very curious about their world, and thanks to the Internet they can get lots of answers to all kinds of questions. You want to give them answers and make sure they have accurate information. Dr. Jennifer stressed the importance of honesty, because children know if you are lying.
How To Tell Teenagers Bad News
Dr. Jennifer said teens can respond with anger to bad news. Let teens know they should find some way to express their feelings, even if it’s not to you. Dr. Tiffanie recommends using a journal to write messages between you and your teen and facilitate open communication.
Talking About 9/11 & Natural Disasters
Audience member Felicia said her 7-year-old daughter recently asked about the Freedom Towers at Ground Zero in New York City. Felicia gave a basic explanation of the events of 9/11, but didn’t go into much detail. She wondered whether she handled the conversation correctly or needs to give more information.
Dr. Jennifer’s advice was that you answer the specific question the child has asked. They will ask follow up questions if they want more information. Dr. Tiffanie added that you can ask them what they already know about a topic to give yourself some context to frame your answer.
TLC Method For Kids Conversations
Dr. Tiffanie said to remember TLC when you talk with kids. TLC in this context stands for Timing, Listening, and Context, three ways you can keep the lines of communication open.