At a glance
Your child’s caregivers are important sources of information about your child.
Sharing and comparing information can help you make sense of what you’re seeing.
If you’re uncomfortable, knowing what to say can make the conversation easier.
You may spend some time chatting with your child’s daycare teacher, babysitter, extended family, or youth group leader, at pick-up or drop-off time. But talking with them about the signs of challenges you’ve seen in your child is different. How do you start that conversation? What should you ask or say?
If you feel uncomfortable talking about it, even to relatives who look after your child, you’re not alone. But keep in mind that the reason for talking to other caregivers is to share and compare what you’ve observed. That way you can get a fuller picture of what’s going on.
These sample conversation starters can help you plan what to say. Use them as a guide as you jot down your own questions.
There are some general rules to follow:
- Be clear.
- Be specific.
- Share information.
- Ask questions.
- Ask follow-up questions.
Asking to talk
It can be hard to find your way into the conversation. And not just because the topic can be hard to talk about. It’s also difficult to find time when you can speak freely and nobody’s rushing out the door.
What you can say: “Can we find some time to talk about how things are going?”
Starting the conversation
Be clear that this conversation isn’t about how the other person interacts with your child. Explain that you want to talk about things you’re worried about.
What you can say: “You spend a lot of time with and really know Taylor well. I’ve noticed some behavior challenges that I’d like to get your take on.”
Sharing what you’ve observed
You may worry about being judged. Try to keep in mind that this is a person you trust and who cares for your child. Being as open as possible is important. Share details and be specific.
What you can say: “I’ve noticed that Taylor seems to act before thinking, plays rougher than other kids, and overreacts when something doesn’t go exactly as planned. It’s worrying me.”
Asking what they’ve observed
Start with open-ended questions. If you give them the space to provide detailed information, they’re more likely to share it. Let them know you want their honest observations.
What you can say: “Can you tell me how it’s been going? Have you noticed any similar behavior or anything else you think would be helpful to know?”
Following up on the information shared
Ask for the details or for specific examples to get a fuller picture.
What you can say: “Can you describe what you mean when you say Taylor doesn’t listen to you? What does that look like? Can you give an example and tell me more about what you did and how Taylor responded?”
Closing out the conversation
Let them know you appreciate their openness and that you may want to talk again another time.
What you can say: “This was a tough conversation. Thanks for listening to me and being willing to share what you’ve seen. For now, I want to think about all of this. I may have more questions another time, though.”
Even if what others share with you is hard to hear, it’s an important conversation to have. It gives you a better picture of how your child acts with and around other people.
Find a time to talk when no one’s in a rush.
Be clear and specific when you talk. Ask follow-up questions.
Ask open-ended questions to get more detailed information.
About the author
About the author
Amanda Morin is the author of “The Everything Parent’s Guide to Special Education” and the former director of thought leadership at Understood. As an expert and writer, she helped build Understood from its earliest days.