While it may be easier to imagine your kids are in the dark about the many not-so-pleasant, slightly scary subjects of the world, maintaining naiveté is probably not the best stance to take.

And with the internet at their fingertips, kids can discover information for themselves easier than ever. So how do you beat the eighth-graders gossipping about sex and the tabloid covers in the magazine aisle with headlines screaming about drug overdoses?

The key is open and honest communication. Knowing when and how to talk to your kids about topics such as mental health, sexual assault, suicide and drugs can be vital to making sure they understand those subjects in a healthy and appropriate way.

On the following pages, we’ve broken it down by age group to give you an outline as you address these subjects with your kids and teens. And while we use age brackets, remember that every child matures differently and handles information in their own unique way. You know your child best, so follow your gut.

And remember: if you think your child may be dealing with depression, suicidal thoughts, a drug addiction or any other issue addressed in this section, reach out to a professional for help. Therapists, doctors and counselors at places such as Pinnacle Pointe Hospital, The BridgeWay and Centers for Youth and Families are there to provide support, counsel and knowledge to help in any difficult situation.

How to Talk to Your Kids About Drugs & Alcohol

How to Talk to Your Kids About Mental Health

How to Talk to Your Kids About Sexual Assault & Consent

How to Talk to Your Kids About Suicide


Cover Kid Contest winner Hudson Thomason was our model for the issue. Hudson is 12 years old and plays catcher for the Bryant Black Sox baseball team. Photography by Sarah Oden