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SEARCH’s Program Managers Provide Their Advice on Talking to Your Children About Homelessness #1

Mitzi Bartlett, House of Tiny Treasures Program Manager

When you talk to a child about homeless individuals it is important to remember their developmental stage of understanding. Children ages two to seven are in the pre-operational stage according to Piaget.

This means children don’t understand the other person’s point of view and can’t mentally manipulate information. It needs to be relevant to their concrete thinking.

Answers need to be short and pertinent to the child. Here are some examples;

Child: “Why is he sleeping on the street?”
Parent: “He doesn’t have a home.”
Child: “Why?”
Parent: “You know how Mark, Sam and you are different so are the reasons people are homeless.”
Child: “Does he have a mommy?”
Parent: “Yes”
Child: “Where is she?”
Parent: “I don’t know.”
Child: “What can we do?”
Parent: “We can collect food or water and take to SEARCH.”

The important thing to remember is it is okay to say I don’t know or I will have to find an answer.

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