3 Great Tips on How to Teach Your Kids About Homelessness
Teaching kids about homelessness at a young age is a great idea. Here are 3 tips on how to talk to kids about homelessness.
Keyword(s): how to talk to kids
It’s natural to want to protect children from the harsher elements of life, but unfortunately for some children or members of their families, homelessness is a reality.
Even if it doesn’t affect them directly, they may see panhandlers on the street in need of money, or the homeless sleeping rough.
How you address these points with kids can have a big impact on their actions. Here are some suggestions for how to talk to kids about homelessness.
1. Understand the Problem
Do you have an up-to-date understanding of the issue of homelessness yourself? If not, then you might be surprised to find out how things have changed, and how extensive the problem is in your area.
While the stereotype of a homeless person may involve substance abuse or mental health concerns, the reality is that many people end up without a permanent home out of simple bad luck.
One reason to truly understand the problem is that there may be students at your child’s school who don’t have a home. Your child may get an introduction to the issues of homelessness because the child at the next desk doesn’t have the basic supplies needed for school.
2. Model Empathy
Children learn a lot about the world by watching what you do. If you try to ignore a homeless person on the street, or change the subject when they ask questions, you may be giving them the impression that you don’t care, or that this isn’t a subject that it is OK to discuss.
To change that, model kindness. Say hello to homeless people on the street, or consider buying them a hot drink or a meal.
While you may see panhandlers asking for money, some experts suggest that you should give practical support rather than cash which could be used for substance abuse. Carrying hygiene kits, pet food, or food may be a better alternative. This is a great way to make teaching about charity a practical lesson.
3. How to Talk to Kids? Honesty
If your child asks a question about homelessness, then give them an honest but age-appropriate answer. Children don’t have a full understanding of the way the world works, so they may not understand that not everyone can afford to own or rent their own home, for example. Educating kids about homelessness is part of a wider understanding that they need to develop about the world around them.
You can also use this as a lesson to show them how people come together to support each other. A visit to a food bank, soup kitchen, or other charity that supports the homeless might make them understand how important it is to help others when they are in need. You could also talk to them about celebrity visits.
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