Parenting can often feel like one of life’s biggest mysteries. You’re basically left in control of a life (or two, or three) without any kind of instruction manual. It would have been nice if there was a module in polytechnic or university that taught everyone the basic theories and tenets of parenting, child development, and education – but there isn’t.
It sometimes feels like the older your child gets, the less you know, and something as simple as sharing information and talking to them, can often feel fraught – after all you don’t want to say the wrong thing and scar them for life.
In particularly, breaking bad news to a child can seem incredibly hard, even over the simplest things such as, “you can’t get that new bag for your birthday,” or ” we’re not going out to East Coast Park playground this weekend because I’m ill.” It becomes even harder when it’s something difficult like death. “When my grandmother passed away, I hid it from my child,” says parent Sharon*. “I didn’t want to deal with a crying tantrum when I have my hands full with the funeral.”
To help better understand what kids understand (and don’t), we turn to child behavioural therapist Xin Xuan from Mindful Bear for some tips on how to break bad news to children.