When you need help, just wishing often doesn’t work.

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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 #8: Your adults cannot read your mind. Tell children, “No matter how good they are at guessing, your adults cannot read your mind.” When children (and adults) have a problem, they often wish somebody could read their minds instead of having to try and explain why they’re asking for help. Think of a pretend problem a young person can relate to and guide them through a role play. Coach them so they can practice how to tell the whole story and persist in getting help from an adult who doesn’t understand.

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

When kids at any age have problems, their adults might not understand unless they tell the whole story. Younger children often believe their grownups can read their minds. Older youth might be embarrassed or afraid of getting in trouble. Even adults sometimes use the Wishing Technique (wishing people would just be able to read our minds and do what we want or wishing that something is or is not actually happening) and the Hinting Technique (using hints or suggestions rather than actually saying what you want) instead of asking clearly for help.

Start the practice by saying, “I will always want to help you if you have a problem. To make sure I understand, you will need to tell me the whole story about what happened.”

Make up a pretend problem relevant to the child for practice. For example, you can say, “Imagine you don’t want to go to school because some kids are calling you hurtful names and shoving you at recess. Suppose you told the adult in charge of the schoolyard, but the problem is getting worse. Pretend to get help from me.”

Coach the child to say, “Excuse me, I need help.”
Answer, “Okay, what is going on?”
Coach the child to say, “I don’t like school anymore.”

Sigh and say, “Sorry, but you still have to go.” Ask the child if this sounds like he told the whole story?
Coach him to explain about the kids teasing and being hurtful and not being able to get help at school.

Respond by saying, “Thank you so much for telling me. I’m sorry I didn’t understand before. I want you to feel safe at school, and we will figure out what to do.”

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 8, 2019   |   Last Updated: April 8, 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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