Talking about abuse using Preventive Teaching
Smarter Parenting has inspired skills that are used by therapists to help us teach our children. One of the skills is called “Preventive Teaching”. It can help us improve communication and improve our relationship with our children, and prepare them to recognize and deal with any form of abuse.
The first step in Preventive Teaching is to express empathy. Be observant and notice if a child seems troubled or upset. Ask them what they are feeling and what made them feel that way. Determine if the child has experienced abuse. Help them understand that abuse means being treated with cruelty or violence. Abuse can be physical, sexual, emotional, verbal or a combination of these. Show appropriate concern for the abuse. Avoid blaming the child for what may have happened.
The second step in Preventive Teaching involves describing how you want your child to act. Explain to them that no one deserves to experience any form of abuse and that you want them to feel safe. As their parent, you are there to comfort and support them. Let them know that they can contact you if they ever feel abused.
Step three in Preventive Teaching is to give your child a meaningful reason to behave in an appropriate manner. Without jumping to conclusions or reacting emotionally, make sure you get the facts straight about what happened. Your example will teach them how to react to abuse.
If someone has hurt them, it is important that they report it to an adult who cares (like their teacher or parent) so the abuse will not continue. If they have a physical injury, see that it is taken care of right away. If possible, talk to the offender or their parents when appropriate. If the abuse happens at the school, make sure to report it to school authorities and the police if necessary,
If it is sexual abuse, help them feel comfortable confiding in you who it was. It could be a family member, neighbor or a stranger. Sexual abuse needs to be taken seriously and should be reported to the police or proper authorities. You may need to seek professional help to determine the extent of the sexual abuse, such as a doctor or a therapist.
Emotional abuse can be verbal and including threats, criticism or the victim of anger. By communicating effectively with the child, you may be able to determine the kind of emotional abuse they have experienced and the proper course of action. Using the skill of Effective Communication can make difficult conversations easier.
Neglect is another form of abuse. A child who does not have enough food to eat, adult supervision or emotional support is being abused. Teach your child about these forms of neglect so they are aware of the difference. If your child suspects that someone they know may be neglected, don’t hesitate to report it to proper authorities.
Step four in Preventive Teaching is to practice the expected behavior, in this case, reporting the abuse. According to Smarter Parenting, this is the most important part of this skill. You can role play with the child about what to do if they see or experience abuse. You do not actually need to abuse your child to show them what abuse would look like. Make the practice fun and simple so they will not feel like they are being lectured.
Step five in Preventive Teaching is to find something positive that they did during role play. This will give them confidence to effectively deal with abuse. Be positive and complementary of their efforts and encourage them to be creative in their reactions.
Step six in Preventive Teaching is to continue practicing. After a child has done the role play correctly at least four times, it should become natural for them. Always show love and patience and involve the whole family if possible.
Abuse can happen anywhere (even in the home) and can include bullying, hate crimes because of race, religion, disabilities, gender or sexual orientation. It is up to the parents to teach their child about abuse. By practicing the skill of Preventive Teaching, we can communicate in a better way with our children. They will see us as their advocate and come to us whenever they feel threatened. Also, through practice, we will learn not to become emotional or react negatively in case our child is abused.
Learn more about abuse