How do you help your children tell when they don't have the words?

 

Use TAALK's Stoplight Magnets as a conversation starter. They allow your children to tell you if someone makes them feel safe, uneasy, or scared without even having to use words. Then you can limit access appropriately.

Using stoplight magnets is a great way for you to start a conversation with your children about how they feel when they are with certain people and empower them to use those feelings to make choices. It's a positive and light hearted way to give your children permission to tell you about potential danger when they may not have the words to explain.

Use this example to explain the stoplight metaphor to your children, adjusting it to be age appropriate...

We all have "instincts" - it's something inside of us that tells us when something doesn't feel safe or right and it's really important to pay attention to those feelings. Even adults don't always do a good job of paying attention so I got us a game to help us both get better at it.

The game uses a stoplight as an example. You know, green means go, right? So we use green to say when everything is okay, when we feel safe, and when we feel comfortable with the person we're talking about. These are people we would like to spend more time with.

Yellow is a warning, like at an intersection the yellow light warns us that it is about to turn red and then it would be dangerous to be in the intersection. So we use the yellow light as a warning. We should use it whenever someone makes us feel uncomfortable, uneasy, scared, or even if we have a yucky feeling in our tummy, even if we don't know why. These feelings are a warning that there may be danger ahead so we should pay close attention and don't spend time alone with that person. It doesn't matter if it's an adult or a friend.

Now what about red? It means STOP! It means don't go into the intersection because it would be scary and dangerous right now and we could get hurt. So we use red to tell when somebody is doing something dangerous or scary and we feel unsafe being with them. These are people we don't want to spend time with right now, even if we can't say exactly why, other than the fact that our tummy tells us so.

So let's try it. I'll do one, then you do one okay?

Then just walk through some examples taking turns. Use some real examples of people who make you feel a little uncomfortable. You don't have to go through every person your child knows in the first sitting. Just do some and then add people as you go about life. So the next time they go to softball practice or have a new babysitter, you can ask them to tell you about their feelings afterwards. You can even use this to help them talk about strangers or situations that make them feel uncomfortable.

Keep it fun and light as much as possible so children will want to participate. Remember this is just the start of the conversation. As your children raise concerns about specific people, just say, "tell me more about how you feel" or "can you tell me about why you feel that way?" Use open ended questions to keep the conversation going. Remember that modeling is very important so when you give an example of someone who makes you feel uncomfortable, take the opportunity to tell your child about your feelings and what it is about that person or their behavior that makes you feel uncomfortable.