Our children are met with so many confusing messages for them and keeping secrets is one of them. We want our children to know how to keep a secret, how to be loyal to a friend who has entrusted them with a personal thought or feeling. At the same time as adults we know that they can be asked to keep things secret that they really need to talk to an adult about. It may be about one of their friends who is considering doing something that is not safe, fair or even lawful. Even more so, some adults may tell a child not to tell anyone about something that we know they should report to us, so we can keep them safe. Here are some questions we can teach our children to use to decide if they should keep the secret or if they should tell their mom and dad, teacher or principle, or some other trusted adult.
If the child is under the age of 5 we will give them two questions:
1. How does it feel? If it makes you feel happy – this is a secret you can and should keep. (like a surprise birthday party) If it makes you uncomfortable, if you get a funny feeling inside your stomach and you don’t think it is a good idea or is right – then you must tell an adult. If you are not sure it is always OK to tell an adult.
2. Will it hurt someone? Explain to your child that if the secret they have been asked to keep may hurt someone or someone may get hurt if they do what they say they are going to do, then they need to tell an adult.
If your child is 5 or 6 years old teach them questions one and two and then add this question to their decision making process.
3. Will I be proud of the choice I made? This is a great question for anyone to consider in making any decision. How will I feel if someone gets hurt? If I don’t tell, will I be proud of myself?
If your child is 7 or older teach them all of the above questions and then add this question to their decision making process.
4. Am I reporting to get help or to get someone in trouble? No child wants to get labeled as untrustworthy or not loyal to keeping a secret. They also do not want to be called a tattle-tale. So they need to consider why they are telling. Do they see that if they don’t tell, someone might get hurt or that something is being done that is wrong? They must feel comfortable in asking for help and being able to tell the difference in – just trying to get someone in trouble or getting help in solving a bad situation.
Parents: Children should never keep secrets about touching. If you are interested in how to talk to your children about ‘good touch / bad touch’ , Balanced Life Skills would be happy to present a workshop for parents on this subject. I know this seems hard to do. But we will break it down for you to make it easier. Just contact us for more information.