Serious Talks with your Kids.

I can’t *believe* I am asking this at this stage but.. I guess this is the way the world is for some kids now.

I just read an article about a 9-year old girl who committed suicide the other day in Calgary:

When do you think it’s appropriate to start having those *serious* “you can come to us” conversations about that kind of stuff specifically??

Not just who you can talk to about things but what you can talk to them about and why? I’m thinking about those specific heavy topics like running away, sexual assault, suicide, things of that nature…

My kid is almost 8 and I don’t want to crush her innocence by bringing the darkness all down at one time… but at the same time, I’m so scared something is going to happen that I’m going to miss and not be able to help until it’s too late.

*sigh*. My heart is weeping that I even have to think about this.



20 Responses

  1. We began all conversations at the time real problems began like brother was bugging sister. Any question answer right there as we all have dictionaries on our phones. And no matter what make that they have your undivided attention. I found even having music in the background will get them to think you aren’t listening. Hope this helps it worked for us

  2. Jules Maria Jules Maria says:

    If anyone has age appropriate links….

  3. Dorinda Dawn Dorinda Dawn says:

    You don’t need to talk about suicide per say, but always from a young age we had feeling check in’s….. the kids out have cut outs of happy face, sad face, angry face, confused face , a blue face ( for depressed) ….and every morning before being sent off for school they would choose a face depending on how they felt ….. and after school before supper they choose another one …. and I would always offer one on one talks to discuss their choice if they wanted too, sometimes they did and some times they didn’t …. at bedtime routine they would have one last final check in and would often open up about their day during tuck in… if they brought up certain topics on their own we would certainly discuss them

  4. Start with asking your child what they know about mental illness and see what they know and go from there. It’s never to early and the information is probably better coming from you than the internet or another kid on the internet. Let your child know if they ever feel down or need to talk that they can talk to you or if they are not comfortable, they can talk to a teacher, coach, aunt, uncle etc. That there are people in there life to talk to. It’s important to educate kids about mental illness. I grew up never hearing the word depression or anxiety until I was in high school. It wasn’t until my third year of university that I was willing to accept I had social anxiety and depression that I went and got help. I suffered with it since I was 9. Had I known what it was or that there was help at a younger age I would have probably gotten help sooner.

  5. Krista LaRue Krista LaRue says:

    I think there’s no “too young” age to start talking about that stuff. Just depends on your approach and obviously what details they can handle. My boys are 6 and 4, I talk to them all the time about appropriate touching, strangers, behaviour, difference races, sexual orientation and bullying.

  6. Ruth Edwards Ruth Edwards says:

    Buy an age appropriate book and spend time reading with your child. Discuss the pictures and ask questions. Chances are your child has been exposed to this but doesn’t know how to tell you about it.

  7. We have a VERY open household when it comes to topics such as death, suicide, all aspects of mental health, plus any other topics that I think are important. I have always talked to our kids about how important it is to be open and honest with us about their mental health, or any other adult that they feel safe talking to, such another family member, teacher or coach. They know what depression is, they know what feeling blue is, they know about anxiety, they know it’s normal to have bad days, and go through bad times and hard times but it so ok to get help from professionals if you can’t seem to get out of a slump. It means you are stronger than you thought you were.
    Suicide seems to be all over the internet and my one son had a lot of questions and we answered them as best we could (neither one of us has ever gone through a depression so we can’t give personal perspective) but we both know many people who have been depressed and have reached out for help. We just talk and talk and talk. We keep the lines of communication open 24/7 so to speak. What I found to be the easiest way to bring stuff up is when I see it on the news or on a movie/tv show. I will bring up the topic then and there. My one son saw a same sex couple holding hands years ago on Whyte Ave and thought it was gross. We had the best conversation about same sex relationships and they know that I support the gay community 100% and I said I don’t care WHO they love, I care HOW they love. They are 15 and 13 and both boys are very clearly interested in girls but they know how important it is to be kind and respectful of all kinds of communities, and to STICK UP for ANYONE who is being treated poorly. Having 2 boys, I just had a very frank and honest discussion about what they would do if, down the road, they are at a party and they see a girl who is really drunk or out of it and they see some boys trying to take advantage of her. What would they do? I had just watched a true crime show about a young girl who was raped after she got really drunk. We have to talk about these things. We have very frank talk later about sex, about respecting girls and women as well as their buddies. We are very blunt about a lot of topics. We have talked about drinking and drugging too. If a friend drinks and tries to drive, if they are the sober driver and they made the choice to drink even though they told their buddies they would drive….what would they do. They also know that they can call us at all hours and we will come get them.

  8. If children feel that they can come and talk to you openly about anything without judgement, or if they approach you and you put aside anything your doing, you will hopefully have good communication lines open.

  9. Start this when they re really young , keep it age appropriate and make sure you re creating an environment where they can come to you. Don’t shoot down their ideas or thoughts and when they do want to talk( it will always be at a bad time) listen…

  10. Lisa Fedirko Lisa Fedirko says:

    From day one I’ve been trying to do this with my kids. I had a tough and traumatic childhood. I think it would have been easier if I felt my parent and I could communicate without fear of getting in trouble or blamed.
    It’s hard but just jump in two feet running.
    Proactive not reactive.

    It came in handy last year when my girl needed to talk to me about something really tough and serious.
    And not that I started at 8 per se but I think 9 or 10 I started watching the old degrassi jr high with my kid. Then talked about the episode. What would you do/change about what happened? What do you think the parent could do better? Etc. It HELPED. Lots.

  11. Jeff Hamm Jeff Hamm says:

    Children are actually remarkably resilient to dark subjects. The concept of childhood innocence is a young one. Children born 150 years ago started working at around age 8 or 10 usually. The world was not held from them, and they’re going to learn someday that life is full of suffering and anguish. I figure it’s better to introduce these ideas early on in order to smooth the transition through puberty and adulthood. Talking to them as children also gives them context for emotions and feelings they are going to feel in the future.

    This will also give them the communication tools to convey that they might be feeling depressed, anxious, or suicidal. Just be prepared to answer lots of questions, and to have no questions to answer.

  12. I know times are different over the years since the digital age came into play…but from my standpoint, its something that is instilled from as young as possible.
    Using each time a topic is broached in media, school, etc as an opening to expose children consistently and frequently to each families particular beliefs and way of open arms policy

  13. Be there for your kids. Live frugally so you can work less. Do things together even going for walks. Let them talk to you

  14. Alexis Musik Alexis Musik says:

    Start now! I started when my daughter was able to say mama lol

  15. My son attempted 2 times at age nine due to bullying. And we just lost a 10 year old boy here in medicine hat due to suicide.
    Never too early. And at this age…it is more of a “death is forever” talk cause I dont think they realize it is final

  16. Josh Bauer Josh Bauer says:

    I’m no parent. But the only reason you can’t have the talk is whats going on in between the six inches of your own head. Suck it up and talk

  17. It could be kept simply to open and honest communication. Every kid, no matter their age, knows when their feelings are hurt or when they’re made to feel unlovable. They experience those things on the playground already. The question is how the child deals with those feelings. Open the door, help the feelings to be appropriate, build on every experience to include more of the joys and pains of the real world.

  18. Cassie House Cassie House says:

    I recommend watching the Mr Rogers episode on how to talk to kids about death and how to talk to kids about 9/11. He does a great job

  19. Unfortunately, we live in a world that is much different today than when we (the women of child bearing age) were kids.
    Bullying isn’t just on the playground anymore, it follows kids home literally in their pockets.
    Sexual assault isn’t just strangers or a weird uncle, it’s teachers, religious leaders, peers.
    Suicide isn’t just troubled people, it’s children, elderly, moms, dads.
    There aren’t even just boys and girls anymore, even genders and sexuality is different and fluid.

    I think, personally, that considering what the world looks like – having talks early is a good idea.
    I hated my childhood/teen years and was nothing but miserable and didn’t feel like I could talk to anyone about it, especially my parents.

    Maybe if I had known how to, or felt comfortable enough to ask for help when I was struggling things would have turned out better. Maybe my undiagnosed mental illness (adhd, depression, anxiety) wouldn’t have gone undetected and run rampant in my life until 32.

    I’d say, go for it. Just be sure to let your kid know how much beauty is in the world, how much wonder and things that are good too.

  20. I don’t think there’s anything wrong with transparency. Sure there are appropriate ways to talk to children vs adults- this being said I I hope by 9 years old my children would have a lot of love, and trusting conversations about feelings, bullies, things people say… ect.

    Sheltering a child from the realities of the world, IMO, is not beneficial to the child at a young age or when they grow up.

    Again use of appropriate language is key here.

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