Communicating with your primary school-age child during ‘tough times’

Emerging Minds, Australia, 2019

Most parents wonder how to talk with their child about adversity. Being a parent doesn’t mean you are unaffected by life’s challenges. However, most parents are unsure how to talk with their child about adversity. This resource will help you to prepare for conversations with your primary school-age child about your experience of ‘tough times’ (e.g. relationship conflicts or separation, illness, financial difficulties, job stress, etc.), so can help them to have a better understanding of what is happening. It steps you through:

  • understanding how the adversity affects you
  • thinking about what your child notices and experiences; and
  • preparing to talk with your primary school-age child.

Primary school-aged children are very perceptive and pick up on even the smallest changes in their parent’s behaviour and body language (despite a parent’s attempts to ‘hide’ them). Children can believe they are somehow at fault for their parent’s behaviour and can feel responsible for making their parent feel better.

As a parent it can be very challenging to think about how your child views what is happening. It may be useful to talk to your health professional or another support person about the impact of adversity on your role as a parent. You may even find it helpful to work through this resource with them.

Conversations with your child about difficult times can help them to make sense of their experiences. If you are trying to understand your own experiences, or need to talk about your circumstances, discuss this with either an adult that you trust, a health professional or a peer worker. Do not expect your child to help you understand your experience of adversity

It is important to remember that your experience of adversity does not make you a bad parent. It is possible to have a great relationship with your child even when things are tough.

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