How Do I Talk to My Children to Prevent Child Abuse – Question 3

I’ve read that it is important to practice “what if” scenarios but I’m concerned , will this not scare my child?

Just like any new skill, children must hear the message repeatedly in order to remember it. The younger the child, the more important this is. It will also help you test their understanding of the safety concepts you’re teaching. We can teach our children about water safety and not make them fearful of the water, so we need to do the same when it comes to keeping their body safe.

Say to your child, “What would you do if someone offered you a treat, asked you to help find their puppy, or wanted to give you a gift when I wasn’t there?” Help your child arrive at the right answer, which is to say no, and ask you first. Teach your child that adults do not need to ask children for help and that if they needed help they’d ask another adult.

Many parents also encourage children to walk or run away from a situation. While this is not “wrong,” just remember that children can rarely, physically escape an adult. Be sure to follow it up with the reassurance that since they are a child, it would not be their fault, and that they’d never be in trouble for telling you about it.

If your child does become frightened by the “what if” scenarios, reassure them that it is your job as their parent to keep them safe and that just like they have to hold your hand when they cross the street, it’s also a good idea to talk about how you can keep them safe from in other ways. Putting the scenarios in the context of other normal conversations will also make it seem more normal and less scary to discuss.

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