How to answer your child's awkward questions

The Awkward Question

- You're driving in the car, kids in the backseat, everybody relaxed.  And right then and there, in the middle of Atlanta traffic, your little one drops a bomb, as in The Awkward Question.

"My daughter decided to ask me where babies come from, when she was six,” says WebMD pediatrician and mother Dr. Hansa Bhargava.

She’s had her share of uncomfortable kid moments.   At one point, she says, her then 8-year old son told her, 'I heard that girls bleed when they get older.”

What are parents supposed to say to that?

When you find yourself in the hot seat, Dr. Bhargava says hit pause, and think.

"So, don't react,” Bhargava says. “Be very careful about the tone in your voice, and take a moment to process and decide what you're going to say."

Then, choose your words carefully, taking into account your child's age and how much information is appropriate.

"I've had my children ask, 'Will you die?'  That was a hard one, that came at 5,” she says.

Bhargava says she knew she had to be honest.

"And I was truthful,” she says. “But, I framed it, saying, 'Yeah I will. Everyone dies. But it's not going to be for a very, very, very long time."

When your child’s question is shocking or funny, your first instinct may be to laugh.  Bhargava says don’t.

"I think the most important thing to remember is to keep a straight face,” she says.

The reason?  Dr. Bhargava says kids often ask questions because they've been given bad information.  This is your chance to clear the air.

“So, if it is piece of information that you think is inappropriate for them, or incorrect, use that opportunity to tell them that, 'I'm glad you came to me with this. And let's talk about what's actually happening,'" she says.

No matter how uncomfortable the question, Bhargava you can’t afford to dismiss it.

"But always do not lie and do not block information,” she says.  “You want those communication lines open because they are the foundation of a good relationship which will ultimately help you, no matter what stage of life your child is in."

 

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