Many parents feel uncomfortable talking about sensitive topics like bullying, 'sexting' and porn, but there are ways to make the awkward conversations easier.
- Have some key messages worked out in advance.
- Find somewhere to talk without being interrupted, preferably while doing something nice, like walking the dog, kicky a footy, or playing a video game together.
- Ask questions like 'Is cyber bullying a problem at your school?', 'Do kids at your school talk about watching porn?' and 'Have you ever been contacted online by someone you hadn't met?'
- Try hypotheticals such as 'What advice would you give someone who was asked to send a nude and didn't want to?'
- Summarise what your teen has just told you, to check you've understood and show you're listening.
- Remind your teens that it's smart to ask for help when we need it, and that you would want them to tell you if something went wrong.
- Be clear that whatever the problem is, you'll find a way to deal with it.
- Involve a support person if necessary, like a trusted relative, a psychologist, or a service like Parentline.