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Misconception: Children Don’t Understand What’s Happening

Reality: Children “get it” when something is wrong. Many parents keep the truth from children to protect them, but kids are perceptive: they pick up on what’s happening around them. Without answers, they fill in the gaps on their own, and are left alone with their thoughts and fears, which can cause even greater stress.

Parents should give children opportunities to ask questions, and offer clear, honest answers. Before talking to the children in your care, make sure you and the family are on the same page in terms of what you’re telling them. If they ask you what’s wrong with mom, don’t lie. Redirect them to their parents with: “That’s a good question, let’s see who has the answer,” or “let’s ask your mom after our visit.” Make the family aware of the questions their children are asking, and coordinate responses to ensure consistent answers.