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.
A 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.
A 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.
The Good Secret Bad Secret Game
1.) Provide your child with examples of good and bad secret and ask them “Is this a good secret? If so why? Is this a bad secret? Why? What should you do?”
- Your babysitter has a friend over the house and asks you to not tell your parent. You really like your babysitter. Is this a good secret? If so, why? Is this a bad secret? If so, why? What should you do?
- You are at a friend’s house and the friend’s older sibling shows you videos on their phone that make you feel uncomfortable. They tell you not to tell. Is this a good secret? If so, why? Is this a bad secret? If so, why? What should you do? Let your children know that if someone tells them to never tell, or threatens them in any way if they do tell, that is exactly the type of secret they need to tell a trusted adult.
- Your teacher is getting married. You and your classmates plan to make cards and surprise her with them next week. Is this a good secret? If so, why? Is this a bad secret? If so, why? What should you do?
- Your coach gives you a gift. He says it is because you are awesome. He asks you not to let anyone know about the gift, it is special between you and him. Is this a good secret? If so, why? Is this a bad secret? If so, why? What should you do? Remind your child/tween/teen that if anyone asks them to keep a secret from their parents this is a red flag, bad secret. Exactly the type of secret you need to tell a trusted adult.
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.