With all of the troubling things in the news it can be difficult to know how to discuss such issues. Children may also be exposed to other concerning behaviors at school, church, and home. The most common negative behaviors encountered include: lying, bullying, not taking responsibility for mistakes/behavior, defying rules/authority, acting impulsively, seeking revenge, and needing to be the center of attention at all times (Psychology Today, 2017).
The most important thing to remember is that these tough discussions should be ongoing and based on the child’s level of maturity and age. Grade school children tend to be very rule oriented and view things in black and white; they are taught to focus on how people are ‘supposed’ to behave (Psychology Today, 2017). Teens are able to understand things in abstract ways, understand nuances, and reflect on context of emotional reactions/behaviors (Psychology Today, 2017).
It is important to discuss things calmly, even if emotions are high. Ask open-ended questions such as, “How should one behave if you want to meet a goal?” or “What would happen if your coach or teacher acted like a bully?”. Welcome their questions so they know they have a safe place to discuss what they see and hear.