Communicating with your toddler during ‘tough times’

Emerging Minds, Australia, December 2018

Parental adversity can take many shapes and affect parents in different ways. Being a parent doesn’t mean you are unaffected by life’s challenges. This resource will help you in connecting and communicating with your toddler or young child during ‘tough times’ (e.g. relationship conflicts or separation, illness, financial difficulties, job stress, etc.), so that they feel secure and nurtured. It steps you through:

  • understanding how the adversity affects you
  • thinking about what your toddler or young child notices and experiences; and
  • communicating with your toddler or young child to support a nurturing connection.

Although a toddler or young child may still be developing their understanding of what you say, they will be sensitive and responsive to your emotions and tone of voice. You might notice that when you are going through difficult times, your child’s responses also change.

As a parent it can be very challenging to think about how your toddler or young 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.

Other trusted adults can be helpful when explaining your experience of adversity to your child. Consider grandparents, other family members or good friends. Have a conversation with these people. Tell them about the information you have given to your child and the information that you would like them to share. You can also tell them if there is anything that you do not want to be shared with your child.

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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