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Listening with compassion helps kids to feel safe and respected.

April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. As part of our global efforts to help protect kids from abuse, bullying, and other harmful behavior, each day this month, we will share a time-tested skill from our Kidpower® 30-Skill-Challenge Coaching Handbook.

Skill #22: Let Kids Talk About THEIR Feelings. Kids are safer when they have ongoing and open communications with their adults. The problem is that kids often don’t talk with adults about uncomfortable feelings because they don’t want a lecture or to get into trouble, especially as they get older. Children need adults who will listen with respect and kindness when they talk about anything that bothers them. Instead of ignoring or minimizing kids’ feelings because what they are unhappy about was necessary, adults can be supportive by following this constructive approach.

This full practice is a part of the Kidpower® 30-Skill-Challenge Coaching Handbook.

Kids are safer when they have ongoing and open communications with their adults. The problem is that, especially as they get older, kids often don’t talk with adults about their feelings because they don’t want a lecture or to get into trouble.

Even if something is not their choice, children need adults who will listen with respect and kindness when they talk about anything that bothers them. Instead of ignoring or minimizing kids’ feelings because what they are unhappy about was necessary, adults can be supportive by saying simply, “Thank you for telling me. I’m sorry that you had to for your health/safety.”

Explain to a child, “Remember anything that bothers you should never have to be a secret. Even if touch is not your choice, you can say that you don’t like it and tell everyone how you feel.”

To practice, say, “Let’s pretend that you sat accidentally on a sticker bush, and I have to pull the stickers out of your bottom.” Note: Don’t actually act this out with kids. Just put your hands up in front of you like you have tweezers.

Coach the child to say, “This hurts. I don’t like it. Please stop.”

Tell the child, “I’m sorry it hurts, but I have to get these stickers out for your safety.”

Coach the child to say, “I’ll tell!”

Say, “Good! You can tell everyone what happened!”

Ask the child, “Suppose I asked you not to tell because it would be too embarrassing. If I did that, I would be making a Safety Mistake and you can say, ‘Anything that bothers me should not have to be a secret.’”

Practice by saying, “Oh, please don’t tell!”

Coach the child to say, “It’s against our Safety Rules to keep problems a secret.”

For a FREE explanation on the simple methods you can use to teach children to use each of these skills, download the Kidpower® 30-Skill-Challenge Coaching Handbook on our website –this ebook will be FREE of charge in English, Spanish, and Arabic in honor of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Please share this skill with others. Let’s work together to teach young people to take charge of their safety, increase self-confidence, and develop healthy, positive relationships! 

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Published: April 22, 2019   |   Last Updated: April 22, 2019

Kidpower Founder and Executive Irene van der Zande is a master at teaching safety through stories and practices and at inspiring others to do the same. Her child protection and personal safety expertise has been featured by USA Today, CNN, Today Moms, the LA Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Publications include: cartoon-illustrated Kidpower Safety Comics and Kidpower Teaching Books curriculum; Bullying: What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe; the Relationship Safety Skills Handbook for Teens and Adults; Earliest Teachable Moment: Personal Safety for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers; The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People, and the Amazon Best Seller Doing Right by Our Kids: Protecting Child Safety at All Levels.

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