Q: How can I teach my child not to keep Secrets?

Good and Bad Secrets

There is a specific importance to Secrets when it comes to your child’s personal safety. Predators depend on a child ‘keeping the secret’ for them to keep a child silent. We know from survivors, many of whom only ‘shared their secret’ as an adult that they were afraid to tell.

We can empower children with understanding from a very young age, the difference between a good secret and a bad secret.

GOOD SECRET is the kind of secret that your child knows will eventually be shared. For example, knowing about a surprise party or a gift. Keeping the secret makes them feel happy, excited, and proud. Another example is that you take one child to the store to pick out a gift for their sibling. You ask them to keep it a secret until they will give the gift next week on the child’s birthday. The feelings that the child will have are excited, proud, happy.

BAD SECRET is one that makes your child feel confused, worried, or afraid to tell. Often, a bad secret is one that is hard to tell or one that your child feels they can’t or should never tell you. It is dark and feels shameful to tell. These types of secrets can range from the obvious – when a person asks them to keep a secret and NEVER tell, or when something uncomfortable happened to them such as seeing something confusing or scary online, being bullied, failing a test, or receiving an Unsafe Touch.

ACTIVITIES TO DO TOGETHER

1.) Provide your child with examples of a bad secret such as when a person asks them to keep a secret and NEVER tell, or when something uncomfortable happened to them such as a time when they were mean or someone hurt them, had their feelings hurt, or failed a test.

2.) Ask your child to tell you (or make up) a good and bad secret of their own. Guide them gently if you feel they have misunderstood the idea.

For example: Your child has lost their new sneakers and not told you. You may have to discuss being more responsible, and they may not be able to have a new pair for some time, but you will tell them that you are proud of them for being honest and you will solve the problem together.

 

TIP: Tell your child that any secret they feel afraid to tell is exactly the kind of secret they MUST tell to one of their trusted people in their Circle of Safe Adults. And they should keep on telling until they get the help they need. Stress that you will not be angry with them, and you will work together with them to solve the problem.

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