How to Talk About Sticky Issues with Your Child

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How to Talk About Sticky Issues with Your Child

"Let's talk"

By June Yong | 22 October 2020

Sex, lying, addiction to devices – these are just a handful of common areas that parents today need to address with their children. But how do we broach such topics without scaring our kids (or even ourselves) or straining the relationship?

Tip: Set the atmosphere

Find a conducive place to start the conversation. Make sure that both you and your child are feeling relaxed and in an overall positive mood.

That said, there is no perfect time to have a difficult conversation so sometimes we just have to take a deep breath and dive into it.

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1. Be curious

Say what you’ve noticed.

For example:

  • “I notice that you’ve been using the phone even after the allotted time is up. Can we have a chat about this?

2. Share your concern

Share what it is about the behaviour that worries you.

For example:

  • “I’m worried that the excessive game time is distracting you from your schoolwork.”

3. Tell a story

Tell a story about yourself or someone you know who has struggled with similar issues. Share how the issue was eventually resolved.


  • It doesn’t have to have a perfect ending.
  • You can be authentic sharing the way you felt at the time.

4. Listen well

Listening is one of the most essential skills for building a strong relationship with your child. Try not to rush to bring your point across. Give your child room to share their thoughts.

Ask open questions like:

  • “How did you feel when…?”
  • “What was it like when…?”

Try to reflect back to them whatever they said.

5. Connect with the feelings

Children may not be adept at identifying their emotions, but with our guidance, they can grow in self-awareness.

For example:

  • “That sounds so scary. You must have felt terrified.”
  • “You sound frustrated. Is that how you feel when your brother takes your toys without asking?”

6. Use age-appropriate research or articles

Gather some well-researched articles to help get the conversation rolling.

7. Brainstorm possible solutions

After you have managed to reach a good understanding of the problem, invite your child to problem-solve together.

Here are some steps you can try:

  • Brainstorm and write the ideas down
  • Weigh the pros and cons of each solution together
  • Try to reach a mutually acceptable conclusion

It may seem like a lot to do, but please don’t feel like you have to follow every step and conquer it all in one conversation.

Be prepared that it may take many small (casual) conversations to reach any sort of resolution to a difficult issue. But if it works to enhance your relationship with your child and their wellbeing, then it is all worthwhile!

Do pick one or two strategies to try out next time you need to tackle a thorny issue! If the problem grows too big to handle, feel free to approach one of our counsellors for help and advice.

© 2020 Focus on the Family Singapore. All rights reserved.


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