Let’s Talk About It
A virtual exhibit about having difficult conversations with children and their own families. Kidzu is transitioning our Courtyard into an exhibit – titled, “Let’s Talk About It.” This webpage is a virtual version of the exhibit! This exhibit is a project designed to provide tools to families to practice having difficult conversations and to promote healthy dialogue for mutual respect and understanding.
Big conversations can happen at the dinner table with family or at lunch with friends, but sometimes they happen unexpectedly.
Wherever they may happen, use these tools to help you feel prepared to have the conversations you want to have, even if they seem difficult!
Be prepared for a healthy conversation by using these tools:
Goal 1: Create Ground Rules for Discussion
Adults who participated in early sessions helped identify important goals when seeking a constructive dialogue: be patient, open-minded, and present, avoid interruptions, distractions, or using judgemental or accusatory language. Kids who participated in early sessions articulated more specific actions that help set the table for a constructive dialogue: find common points of interest or ideas with others, use positive body language like facing another person and making eye contact, let someone finish their thought before responding, ask clarifying questions, and even share humor through kind-spirited jokes.
Goal 2: Develop Listening Skills
Sometimes topics feel hard because we get stuck on what seems different between others’ ideas and perspectives and our own, and we spend energy trying to convince others why we are “right.” When that happens, try asking someone else why they think what they think in a non-judgmental way. Start your questions with, “Help me understand…” Then, be ready to listen when they answer!
Goal 4: Engage Competing Perspectives
Sometimes our ideas and perspectives differ from others because of our different backgrounds. And, even talking about those differences can be hard. Try pausing to reflect on how the people and media you interact with, where you grew up, and your culture might have shaped your own ideas and perspectives. Then, you can share this with someone you are having a hard conversation with, and ask them if they think there are ways their ideas and perspectives may be shaped by those influences, too. You could see if there are any common experiences or shared values across your differences.
Goal 5: Enrich Discussion & Keep Conversation Alive
Sometimes we say or do things that hurt others, even when we don’t mean to. That can be especially tricky when having a hard conversation, as your words and actions might be interpreted differently than they are intended, or you may not be aware of how your words or actions could be taken as harmful. When that happens, you can acknowledge that even if you didn’t intend to cause harm, you recognize the effect felt harmful. Then, you could think about how you would want to be treated if someone upset you or you can ask them what they need to repair that hurt. And, be ready to listen if they tell you!