*The following is the continuation of a fictional story I told you last week that is based on a true life possibility. You were the momma or the poppa in the story. Oh, and remember, you have a daughter named Krista, age 5.
Last week on Tamar’s Redemption: Krista told you while displaying a mouth-full of chicken nuggets that Brady touched her “potty parts”. In addition she’s revealed that Brady is a big kid and he touched her during recess. Before you could process what she was saying, she told you that her friend Gaby is getting a dog and she wants one.
I gave you a test to see how you should respond to Krista. You were wise. Smart. You chose answer D regarding how to respond to Krista’s disclosure.
D. You say, “Krista, I’m glad Gaby is getting a dog. We can talk about dogs later. Thank you for telling me about Brady and that he touched you at recess. It’s always good to tell me about things that bother you. Right now, I’d like you to tell me a little bit more about it.” You calmly ask open-ended questions like: “Where were you during recess when this happened? Who was there? And then what happened? And then?
Our story continues.
“Can you tell me how old Brady is?” You ask.
“I don’t know, but he’s in fifth grade.”
“Where were you playing at recess?”
“Near the swing set.” She stops eating her nuggets. “With Julia and Katie. But Brady said he wanted to play a game.” She looks down at her feet.
“It’s okay, Krista. You can tell me. What happened next?”
“Brady said the game would be fun, but we could only play it down over the hill.” She stares over your shoulder.
“Then what happened?”
“He told me to come with him, that I could go first.”
You gently wipe a crumb of nugget breading from her cheek. “Then what happened.”
“I went. I . . . I didn’t like the game.”
“Tell me about the game, honey.”
“Brady told me that I couldn’t or he would tell everyone that I like him and . . .”
You tuck a loose piece of hair behind her ear. “And what?”
“He said he would tell everyone that I touched him.”
“It’s okay. Remember, you can tell me anything. I won’t be mad. What happened next?”
I’m going to end the version with the open-ended questions here.
But what if you hadn’t asked open-ended questions? Your conversation may go something like this.
“Krista, we’ll talk about dogs later,” you say. “How old is Billy?”
“I don’t know.”
“Is he in fifth or sixth grade?”
“Fifth, I think, maybe sixth? I’m not sure.”
“Were you playing with your friends or just Brady?”
She stops eating her nuggets. “With Julia, Katie, and Brady.”
“Well, what were you playing, some kinda touching game or something?”
“No, yes, no. I mean . . . we were playing on the swings and then down over the hill. I don’t like Brady. He makes me mad.”
“Where did he did he touch you, on the front of your bottom or the back?”
“I told you. On my potty-parts.”
|Image curtesty of David Castillo Dominici|
Leading questions can confuse children. They want to give the correct answer, but when you give them choices they feel they must choose one of your answers. However, these answers may not be the correct answers at all. Keep your questions open-ended, and when you have enough information to know that something questionable happened, contact the authorities. Trained forensic investigators understand how to gently find out what really happened to your child and if further investigation is needed.
Teaching our children the proper names for their private parts helps them communicate clearly. When we listen, ask open-ended questions, and don’t jump to conclusions, we find the truth.