Parents Corner

National Child Protection Week: Talking to Children About Safety

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Children are safest when they are listened to, respected, and believed by the adults around them. There are ways you can create a safe space for your child to share their concerns and worries with you.

The first thing to know is that open communication is more about how you are with your child than the words you use.

It’s important that you remain calm during even the most difficult conversations. Big adult emotions can overwhelm children and cause them to ‘shut down’.

In addition to staying calm, approach your child with curiosity and non-judgment. You may feel temptation to lecture but check this urge at the door. During a hard time, would you confide in someone who only points out your faults?

Probably not! If children feel judged, they are less likely to come to you with their struggles again.

Choose the time and place carefully. A neutral space such as the living room can be ideal. Pick a time when you are not too busy to listen. For some children, they feel more comfortable talking about their emotions during parallel activities like a taking a drive in the car or going for a walk.

Focus on listening, rather than responding. Being listened to helps children explore their feelings, put ideas into words, brainstorm solutions to their own problems and develop self-confidence. Your full focus makes them feel respected and helps them know that their thoughts and feelings matter.

Be open to talking about all feelings – joy, sadness, fear, anger, worry. Separate behaviour from emotion. Remember: “all feelings are OK, but not all behaviours are OK”. Children build their emotion vocabulary from the adults around them.

Talk to your child about safety, where they feel safe, with whom they feel safe and what it feels like to be safe.

Discuss ‘early warning signs’ (how their body feels) and encourage them to trust their feelings and instincts.

National Child Protection Week (4-10 September) is all about the ways that we can all work together to build communities that support children and families. Visit www.napcan.org.au to find out more.

Article Written + Submitted by

Monica Purcell | Family Facilitator

Nepean Community & Neighbourhood Services
W: www.nepeancommunity.org.au
E: info@nepeancommunity.org.au

 

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