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How to Navigate "Tough Topics" With Kids

Happy Sunday!

Our team at Chicago Collegiate Nannies hopes that you have had a wonderful and restful weekend! For this week's Nanny Tip of the Week, we are going to address those tough conversations. Have you ever had a time where a child has asked you about a controversial, mature or difficult question? Whether it's politics, the "birds and the bees" or anything in between, there will likely come a time where you will feel stuck (and maybe somewhat cornered!) into answering difficult questions. Have no fear because this week's nanny tip will give you a few great pointers on how to navigate those tricky topics!

1. When in doubt, deflect the comment to the parents - When I was a younger babysitter, I once had a child that I babysat for on occasion ask me some questions related to the "birds and the bees" (if you know what I mean) and I felt completely unprepared. What I found to be the best and most effective response in times like this is to reply with, "Let's ask your mom/dad about that when they get home." Not only does this put the pressure off of you to answer these types of questions, but it also creates a great opportunity to address the topic in a responsible manner. If you feel stuck or the child simply won't let it go, reassure them that their parents would be better at discussing that comment and find another activity to take their mind off of the issue. This not only reinforces your role as the caretaker and not the parent, but also emphasizes that when tough conversations arise, you are modeling to them that they should go to their parent for advice and counsel.

2. If you have an opinion, be respectful and reinforce the opinion/experience is yours - This tip is especially helpful for topics such as religion or politics. If these topics arise and your employers are all right with you discussing this with their children, answer questions brought to the table on tough topics with your opinion or your experience. For example, if you have been through a tough time where a loved one of yours passed away and the child you care for is experiencing a similar situation, it is ok to empathize with them. However, this must be navigated very carefully so as not to impose your own beliefs or opinions onto the child. Be very clear to reinforce that you as a nanny have your own experience and your own opinion and learn to separate that from the child. This helps the child to discuss how they feel and allows them to come up with their own ideas on how to conceptualize the tough topic.

3. Be ok with just listening and asking questions - Sometimes tough topics just require us to listen to our little ones! Give the child the freedom to share and the safety that you are there to support them. The last thing a child needs is for someone to invalidate their experience and to cut them off. Remember you are in the role of a caretaker for the child and that sometimes listening to how they feel can be such a powerful response.

4. Have regular discussions and follow ups with the parents - If a child is continually bringing up a difficult topic while you are caring for them, be sensitive to this and keep your employers informed. For example, if a child is struggling with understanding their racial identity in their friend circle and you happen to be the one to talk with them about it most often, be sure you are keeping the parents in the loop and updating them on what is going on. Sharing your concerns with the parents helps them see that you are wanting to help involve them in the process  and can lead to much more cohesion in the family unit.

Tough topics are never easy (which is why they are often called tough!), but being aware and mindful of the above tips can be useful if/when these conversations arise. As long as you continue to be in the role of a model in their lives, be sure you are upholding professionalism and support no matter what. This is going to be all from us this week at Chicago Collegiate Nannies and we hope these tips are helpful for you in your position! We look forward to sharing a new nanny tip with you next week and hope you feel more at ease next time a tough topic comes up!

Samantha Carney

Photo Credit: Eva Rinaldi (https://flic.kr/p/dUBkDB)