Author and Expert, Angela Shanté
We’re excited to share some great advice on ways to talk to your kids about change. Author and educator, Angela Shanté shares her expertise on a few of the ways she talks to the kids in her classroom about how they can learn to cope with big changes in their lives.
Angela Shanté is the author of the upcoming children’s book The Noisy Classroom, in addition to being an elementary school teacher.
Kids are resilient. They understand way (WAY) more than adults give them credit for, and they pick up on unspoken cues when things aren’t explicitly expressed to them.
Regardless of the grade I taught I often found myself having to discuss change with my students. The older students were curious about college, relationships, and the political climate. Whereas my younger students were interested in things that directly affected their social/home lives.
Regardless of age, many kids come seeking adult guidance because, in some way, they trust the adult and feel safe asking them tough questions. With this in mind, my advice for speaking to kids about change is in these five principals.
1. Start With Questions
Often-times kiddie curiosity is bundled with misinformation, unintended biases, and over-generalizations. It’s important to gauge where the questions are coming from before jumping into an explanation/opinion.
2. Try to Place Their Reference Points
Sometimes students aren’t exposed to certain viewpoints and topics because of familial or cultural norms. It’s important when talking to kids about change that we take this into account. What does he/she know about the topic already? How/has he/she been exposed to areas of the topic? What is his/her reference point toward the topic?
3. Be Honest
Kids are little people. Little people who are coming to you because you are a safe-space for them. Don’t ruin the relationship of trust by lying to them. Even though they are kids you don’t want to insult their intelligence by wrapping answers with illusions and half-truths.
4. Don't Be Afraid to Table the Discussion
Don’t be afraid to table the discussion, and/or say ‘I don’t know’. This is a hard one; especially for young kids (and people in general) because they aren’t getting the instant gratification that they are seeking. Putting a pin in a discussion to figure out a plan of attack, consult a partner, and/or decide how best to discuss the tough topic can give you clarity. It can also be a strategic way to schedule toe conversation for a better time, ensuring you devote the needed time that the conversation warrants.
5. End with Emotions
Change is hard for anyone at any age. Children in particular are still learning their
worlds and developing their identities in it. These challenging conversations
can lead to a positive experience or be a detrimental one for the youngsters in
your charge. Ending the conversations by discussing how you feel and asking
children how they feel about the conversation can provide closure (or, knowing
kids, open you up to more questions).
Modern 21st century kids are hyper-aware of the world because they have more access to the world around them… there is no getting around that. But, what you can control is whom they go to for those really tough questions. When/If you can provide a safe space for discussing hard topics, kids are more likely to be more transparent with you when they face obstacles later in their own lives.
This post was written by Angela Shanté, author of the upcoming children’s book The Noisy Classroom! You can pre-order it now.