It can be difficult for parents to know how to talk about difficult topics to their children. Some parents may feel like they need to protect their children from the realities of life, while others may feel that it is important for their child to understand how the world works. In either case, parents need to find a way to discuss tough topic with their children. This article will offer some tips on how to answer your child tough questions in an age-appropriate and informative way.

How to talk about difficult topics?

We have all experienced that sinking feeling when our child points at someone with a disability, or from a different background and asks in a loud voice, “What’s wrong with that person?” Or your child might be intrigued by an aspect of their life that is different to others and ask questions such as “Where is my dad?”, “Why does my friend has two mums?”

You may instinctively wish to avoid the question, but the best approach is to deal with it honestly.

It’s important that your child knows it is OK to notice differences. We are all different in many ways. Ignoring differences shuts down our ability to appreciate diversity.

What to say to your child

The objective is to explain differences in a way that does not scare or confuse the child.

Explain the particular topic your child is curious about as simply as possible, using language appropriate for the child’s age and level of understanding. For example, you could explain differences by saying, “That person has some difficulty seeing…or walking…or hearing.” Or “This person is darker because her body has more melanin. Melanin is what gives us different colours.”

You do not have to go into a lot of detail, as the child is probably just curious and will ask further questions if they need.

In many cases, this explanation may be all you need to say.

Be respectful and factual 

Answer your child’s questions using respectful terminology. The more we demystify taboos to our children, the more they can understand, normalise and be inclusive.

Emphasise the similarities 

As well as talking about differences, it’s also important to point out what we have in common with others, such as going to the same school, eating similar food, enjoying being with friends and enjoying feeling loved or being part of our group of friends.

Encouraging children to think about what we all need, such as love, play, and friends, helps children recognise that we are similar and fosters empathy and caring for others.

It is OK to be curious

If a child is interested and wants to know more about the tough topic, it is OK to ask teachers, experts or any other professional in the topic area. These conversations don’t need to be shut down. They are opportunities for children to learn more about each other and understand each other.


My name is Daniele. I’m a registered psychologist and founder of Superpower Kids, a program that delivers social-emotional learning resources to thousands of children in Australia and globally.

You can check out the Superpower Kids blog here:

Please let me know what you think of this idea or need more information.

Thank you

Daniele Clarkec