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11 tips for talking with your children

By Connie Fields, RN - Douglas County Public Health

Editor’s note: This is part three of a three-part series.

1 Listen more than you talk. Make sure you know exactly what question your child is really asking.

2 Try not to jump to conclusions. Just because they ask questions doesn’t mean they are “doing it.”

3 Answer questions simply and directly. Give factual, honest, short and simple answers. Don’t beat a dead horse!

4 Take advantage of teachable moments. Watching TV or a movie that doesn’t go along with your values is a great time for discussion. Talk about why teen sexual activity or teen pregnancy is a bad idea.

5 Teach your child/teen how to get out of uncomfortable or risky situations. Let them know they can always call you for help.

6 Pay attention to your child before they get into trouble. Keep tabs on their friends and activities. Don’t leave them alone for long periods of time. Discourage your teen from dating older teens.

7 Remember, kids hate the “talk” as much as you do. Start early with open conversations and keep it going as they grow. Keep terminology age-appropriate.

8 Be a parent with opinions. Express your values and expectations. You might not be there when your child makes decisions about engaging or not engaging in risky behaviors, but they will remember what you have taught them.

9 Talk about their future and potential plans. A bright looking future can significantly increase their resistance against risky behaviors.

10 Talk to your daughters and sons!

11 Monitor the media your child uses. Make sure they’re the messages you want them to be hearing. Parenting is one of life’s most rewarding and challenging responsibilities. Helping young people navigate the passage to adulthood without problems can be daunting.

Parents can do a lot to help. Build that parent-child relationship early on; learn the facts about sexual health, then go for it. Have that talk!

Resources: www.teenwisemn.org; 2013 Minnesota Sexual Health Report. • • •

Connie Fields is chair of the Teen Pregnancy Prevention Action Council (TePPAC).

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