2 girls whispering for a teachable moment

How to turn secrets into a teachable moment

When you hear your child talking about keeping a secret, this is a wonderful opportunity to turn it into a teachable moment. Especially since keeping secrets can make children vulnerable to sexual abuse.

Anytime you catch your children whispering or talking about secrets, you can use it as an opportunity to teach your child an important lesson in a way that feels natural (instead of like a lecture).

You can read this article to learn more about what a teachable moment is.

Watch the video below to learn how to turn secrets into a teachable moment.

Read the transcription

How can we turn keeping secrets into a teachable moment?

Hi, I’m Cath Hak from Sex Ed Rescue and this week we’re talking about how to turn keeping secrets into a teachable moment.

Look, kids love to keep secrets. I don’t know about you, but when my kids’ friends come over and I see them whispering, my radar goes up straight away. I automatically think, “Hang on, what are they talking about? Why are they being so secretive?” There’s a couple of ways you can deal with your children keeping secrets with a friend. You could either grab it as an opportunity right away and say, “Hey, what are you guys whispering about? Is there something going on, or something that I need to know about?”

Or, you could talk to them afterwards about it and say, “Hey, what are your thoughts about secrets? I don’t like secrets, and this is why…” You can also pull out a book. I have a great book that talks about secrets. It’s called, ‘Everyone’s got a bottom’ by Tess Rowley. This book says, “We don’t have to keep secrets about our bodies or private parts. Secrets can be about surprises and presents! We can talk about our bodies feeling safe and feeling hurt. Mum is happy to talk to us about everything.” So, it talks about not sharing secrets.

If you see a little bit of whispering you could pull out a book and have a conversation with your kids at night about keeping secrets. This helps make sure we don’t encourage our kids to keep secrets because that is a tactic that gets used by paedophiles. First, they’ll check to see if a kid will keep secrets. Because if I wanted to sexually abuse a child and they told someone, I’d get caught and go to prison. I wouldn’t want that to happen, because that would be the end of my fun. When paedophiles sexually abuse a child, they take that time to groom children to make sure it’s the most enjoyable for them.

Now that’s why we don’t want to encourage our kids to keep secrets. Personally, I like to use the language from ‘Everyone Has a Bottom’ because I just love how it says, “We don’t keep secrets about bodies, we keep secrets about presents and surprises!” So, you can use kids whispering to each other as an opportunity to remind them what sort of things we keep secrets about, and what sort of things we don’t keep secrets about. This is a mechanism to keep our kids safe from sexual abuse and from being groomed by paedophiles.

Also, it could stop something as simple as my kids’ friend pulling out their tablet and showing them porn, and pictures of people having sex. It stops their friend from going, “No, don’t tell your Mum! This is a secret, because if your mum knows we’ll get in  trouble.” That’s a secret about bodies and body parts. Kids fear getting in trouble, so this encourages them to come to you if someone asks them to keep a secret. This will let them know that they’re not going to get in trouble as well. It’s an important lesson and a good opportunity to talk to your kids about what the rules are about secrets.

I hope that helps, cheers!

About the Author Cath Hakanson

I'm Cath, a sex educator living in Australia with my husband and 2 kids. I help parents to talk about sex (with less cringe and more confidence) and empower their child to make smart sexual decisions. To find a better way to talk about sex, you can join my community of parents and visit my shop for helpful resources.

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