All parents talk to their kids. All parents believe that they have good communication with their child. That is why parents are shocked when they find out their child was molested and they didn’t know about it. (Read about our sample family)
While all parents talk to their kids, few ever sit down to analyze how they talk with their child. You can talk until you’re blue in the face, without having touched upon one area that will uncover abuse. Parents need to learn how to talk the right talk, and ask the right questions.
Know the Different Types of Talk
There are different types of conversation parents engage in with their children
Authority – Giving commands and instructions to a child
Responsive – Responding to a child’s questions, statements, or actions
Current Event – Discussion regarding the environment around you (Look at all those ducks in the water)
Reflective – conversation about past events
Only one of these types generally uncovers abuse, and that is reflective. It’s also the type of conversation most frequently neglected.
Analyze Your Current Communication
Parents need to critique the way they talk with their kids, and put forth a conscientious effort to improve it. We suggest carrying around a hand held tape recorder for a day, and recording all the conversation you engage in with your child. Listen back on it, and chart the different interactions on our conversation chart. If you don’t want to mess with the tape recorder, use the conversation chart by itself, and record the interactions as they happen. Later go back through and categorize your interactions into types of talk. Most importantly, be honest in this assessment. Now isn’t the time to put forth your case for parent of the year, it’s a time to assess your normal, everyday communication. Don’t engage in conversation you normally wouldn’t just to fill out your sheet. Revisit this after a few weeks to see how your conversation has improved.
Improve Reflective Conversation in Everyday Life
By mixing in more of the following statements and questions in you everyday talk, you can increase the amount of reflective conversation you engage in with your child:
What does this remind you of?
Remember that time . . . (fill in the blank)
When is the last time you did this? Saw that? Felt like this?
The ‘Right’ Questions
By making simple modifications to the questions you ask your kids, you can get more in-depth answers, and pry further into the realms where sexual abuse might exist. Here are some examples:
- What was the favorite thing you did today?
- What was your least favorite?
- Did you learn any new games?
- Was everyone nice to you today?
- Anyone do something you thought was mean, either to you or someone else?
- Did anything happen to hurt your feelings?
- Who did you play with on the playground?
- What did you use your body for today?
- Did everyone act normal today? Anything strange happen?
Most importantly, keep prodding. Don’t accept answers of “good” when you ask a child about their day. Pry until you get them to open up. Have you ever been talking with someone on the phone, hung up, and then remembered several things you wanted to tell them, but forgot about? Kids are the same way. They need help and prodding to get started; to remember those things that they would talk with you about but aren’t thinking of at the time. Especially when it comes to things that your child may find hard to bring up, (sexual abuse, bullying, problems with friends) it is your job to ask the questions that will get them started.
Role play is the best way to gain insight into how your child perceives the world around them. Make a habit of role-playing regularly with your child, on a variety of different subjects in their life; school, home, friends houses, church, etc. Play different characters in your child’s life, and have them dictate how you should act. Switch roles and have them play different people while you play the kid. It’s some of the best quality time you can spend.
Get a spiral bound notebook or diary, and sit down with your child every night just before bedtime. Together, write down an entry for that day; what the child did, who they played with, how they felt, things they learned, and even what things they look forward to (or don’t look forward to) about tomorrow. This provides a wonderful bonding experience between you and your child, and it also makes a great keepsake that you will treasure in years to come.
More Information Abuse Prevention:
- Step 1: Raising Sexually Healthy Children
- Step 2: Healthy Body Awareness
- Step 3: Teaching Children to Trust Their Instincts
- Step 4: All About Touches
- Step 5: Everyday Rules
- Step 6: A Child’s Rights
- Step 7: Empowering Your Children
- Step 8: Coaching & Bribes
- Step 9: Proper People Perceptions
- Step 10: Defeating Secrecy
- Step 11: Asking the Right Questions
- Step 12: Making Your Child A Hard Target