Talking to your kids | GREATER WICHITA YMCA

Talking to your kids

Tips for Parents on talking to your child about abuse

As recommended in our letter to Kid Zone parents, talking to your kids about sensitive subjects can be tough.

When there is a possibility that he or she might reveal information about inappropriate behavior, the conversation can become quickly overwhelming.

Before you consider starting a conversation, familiarize yourself with the signs and symptoms of abuse

Here are some tips to help you along the way.

Things to consider before talking with your child about sensitive subjects:

  • Timing and atmosphere are very important.  Choose a calm, unhurried, private time to talk with your child.
  • Before entering into this type of conversation, be sure you’re ready.  Be calm, emotionally controlled and confident.  You want to communicate to your child that you are open to discussing this topic and that you can handle whatever comes up.
  • If this is difficult for you to talk about, practice first with a friend, your spouse or in a mirror.
  • Use simple, conversational language, gauged to your child’s level of understanding.
  • Don’t make the talk scary or gloomy.  Sexuality and self-protection are issues to discuss with children on a regular basis.  Conversations such as this should be a positive learning experience for children so that they feel comfortable talking about their bodies.  This also increases the chances that your child will seek your advice in the future.  Remember, “If you can’t talk about it, you can’t protect it.”
  • If your child shares difficult information, STAY CALM!  Do not say, “Why didn’t you tell me?”  Do let the child continue to talk.  Say that you are proud that he or she found a way to get help.  If you are at all agitated, it may be best to wait until you have a chance to contact a local resource provided to you by the YMCA to continue the discussion.  Tell your child, “I’m really proud that you’ve shared this with me, and I think we should continue this discussion when we can get some extra help from a counselor who has helped other children with these things.  How does that sound?”
  • Remember that your demeanor will communicate more than your words.  Children can be traumatized by emotional, angry or accusatory reactions.

Ready to begin?

Start the conversation with some brief “chit chat.”

“How was your day at school? or “Who did you play with?” or “It’s nice to have a chance to sit & talk for a minute, isn’t it?”

Identify the circumstances in question.

“Do you remember your teachers telling you about the difference between good touches and bad touches?  Remember that if anyone makes you feel uncomfortable or gives you a bad touch you should tell mommy, daddy , a teacher or another grown up.”   

“You know it’s very important that if anything like that happened to you, that you tell me right away, right?  That way I can make sure you are safe. ”

Ask “Did anything like that happen to you?”

Questions if you and your child want to continue to talk.

“Tell me more, I’m listening.”
Your child may be uncomfortable so you’ll want to do what you can to put him or her at ease.  Sitting close, using a calm voice tone, giving a hug or keeping your arm around him or her will help. 

You can also say something like, “You know I love you very much and I’m concerned that you might be upset about something.  Can you tell me what you’re thinking?

If your child clams up or gets upset, continue comforting him or her and call the Y for further assistance.

If your child does disclose that something happened:

“I’m really glad you told me about this.   You did the right thing by telling me.  I’m going to make sure this never happens again.  I know you’re upset, but you know we are here for you.”

After the conversation:

Write down notes about the conversation while it is fresh in your mind.

If following these conversations, you feel you may have cause for concern, notify the Wichita Police Department’s Exploited and Missing Children Unit immediately at (316) 660-9478.