Struggling to Talk to Your Kids About Difficult Topics? Try Coloring Books
Growing up in my home, sitting around the dinner table, there were many topics that were off limits. We didn’t talk about a family friend who struggled with ADHD, or why one student in school has two dads. These topics were taboo for my parent’s generation, even more so as immigrants from India.
Now, as a parent of two children, I understand how much the world has changed and the importance of having these conversations with them early on. Otherwise, we’re not preparing them for the real world. We’re not helping them build empathy. This is what drew me to Cures of Colors as a board member, a non-profit to help parents, guardians and educators teach difficult topics through coloring books both printed and digital. The books cover topics such as children with cancer, the global pandemic, non-traditional families, and Black Lives Matter.
Teaching My Daughter About COVID-19
When we first went into quarantine, my 8-year old daughter asked me a simple question: “Why didn’t you ever teach me about a pandemic?” How many of us ever thought we would have to? It’s also so difficult to explain. I hardly understand what’s going on myself. This pandemic, like for all us us, has flipped her world upside down. She now has to be homeschooled, and put a hold on gymnastics, dancing, play dates and ice cream outings. At her age, this felt incredibly unfair.
Thankfully, I was already part of Cures of Colors and gave her the coloring book on COVID-19. It helps teach her about the pandemic through storytelling, with a villain (the virus) and the superheroes fighting the virus, one way by wearing masks. It helps explain why we can’t see grandma and grandpa because we’re protecting them, and by avoiding some of our favorite activities, we’re superheroes too.
As a bonus, the book offers activities to design her own mask and provides suggestions on what to do when she’s feeling down, such as to go for a socially distant bike ride. This book not only explained the pandemic to her far better than I ever could, but also made her feel empowered to keep others safe.
SOS: A Dad to a Middle Schooler
My 11-year-old son was to start middle school this year, yet hasn’t even stepped foot into his new school yet. Do you remember how terrifying middle school was? Only now, there’s social media and a 24/7 news cycle reporting news about stories we never heard of at that age.
While it’s never easy to talk to kids about what’s going on in the world, it’s hard to talk to middle school kids at all. Yet, being home full time and spending quality time together has helped us open up and get into deeper conversations. Some of those conversations were on Black Lives Matter and racism in the country, mental illness, as well as different types of families all of which were inspiration for upcoming coloring books.
I believe children today have it much tougher than we did. They are exposed to complicated and divisive topics, and much earlier than we did. It’s our job as parents to not avoid having these conversations, but in fact be the ones to bring them up or address them head on when they arise. One way to do that might be by introducing them to a coloring book that explores these topics in a fun, non-intimidating way.
How do you teach your kids about difficult topics? Please share your stories below.