No secrets – just surprises. This is a rule that many are now starting to enforce.
One of the main goals we have as parents and caregivers is to ensure the protection and safety of our children. Many would look at secrets and think that they are harmless. In many cases they are. However there are some secrets that should not be kept.
Unfortunately there are people out there that will use secrets to their advantage and at times may use them in order to hide something that is hurting your child.
It is something that we never want to think about, however child abusers are out there. Someone who is abusing a child will often tell them that its “our little secret” to ensure that they don’t tell anyone.
So why no secrets – Just Surprises?
Some people will teach their children about the difference between good and bad secrets. This method can work. Children though may get confused and not quite understand what is classed as a good secret and a bad secret. The person telling the secret is always going to make it sound exciting and special that they are a part of it. So to a child, all secrets may end up seeming like they are a good secret.
By eliminating secrets all together, it means that they are not confused and know straight away if something is not right.
This doesn’t mean that you need to take all the fun and excitement out of spontaneous or special events – it just means you need to change your wording.
Use surprises instead
If you have bought a present for your partner, or you are planning a party without them knowing, make it a surprise. Explain to your children that it is a surprise and that they can’t tell the other person YET. The important part is letting them know that they will be able to tell someone, or the person you are hiding it from will find out about it – just not yet.
By doing this, they know that it is not being hidden because it is a bad thing. That a time will come when it comes out. This will give them reassurance that it is a good thing and hopefully they will keep the surprise for you.
By including them in the different surprises, they will start to learn what things should be kept hidden and what things shouldn’t.
Explaining to your children. No secrets – just surprises.
It may seem like a scary and awkward conversation to have with your children, but it is a must.
Sit down with them and talk to them about why you are taking away secrets and what you are replacing them with.
Talk about different scenarios with them. Talk about times when someone may use a secret to cover something bad or that they shouldn’t be doing.
Remember to talk to them about their privates and how these are just that – private. That there should not be any secrets about them, especially if someone else is involved.
And then ask them to explain it back to you. The best way to know if they listened and understood is by them saying it back to you.
Most of all, be loving
Throughout the conversations and explaining the changes to your children, the most important thing is to be loving. Help your child to understand that you are there for them. If they feel loved and understood they will be more likely to come to you.
Let them know that they will not be the one in trouble. That if anyone puts them in a situation that they are not comfortable in, that they can come to you.
If there is an abuser involved, they will likely tell your child that the secret is to protect them. That its for fun. Or will threaten to hurt them if they do not keep it. Be there for your child and let them know that you will be no matter what. They will be more likely to come to you with their concerns.
No concern is too small. Explain to them that you want them to tell you everything – even if it seems like nothing.
And remember those three simple words: I love you.