Creating an open dialogue with your child is one of the best ways to prevent them from being sexually abused. One of the most important parts of open conversation is listening.

Listening can be difficult in any relationship, but it’s imperative that you really listen to your child. If they feel that you are genuinely listening and invested in them, then they will be more likely to share their concerns and problems with you.

Having an open dialogue with your children to keep them safe doesn’t mean that conversations about healthy sexual development, sex, consent, or abuse are the only ones that matter. Each conversation you have with your child where you practice listening helps to build trust in your relationship. When your child knows you’ll listen, they are more likely to come to you if something makes them uncomfortable, if they feel in danger, or if their boundaries have been violated.

Here are a few tips to be a better listener:

Make Eye Contact.
Let your child know that your focus is on them and only them. Don’t glance at your phone, don’t watch TV, don’t go about your daily activities. Look at them. It’s hard not to hear what someone is saying when you’re looking them in the eye.
Ask Questions.
Don’t immediately interrupt with a solution to their problem or a correction to their assumption. Ask them a question. For instance, if they’re saying they’re afraid of going to the grocery store, don’t dismiss that as silly. Ask them why. Try to find out what’s at the root of their fear before you give your opinion.
Repeat Back What You Think They Said.
This is important. Make sure that what you’re hearing and what they are saying is the same thing. You can do this by saying something like, “So what you’re saying is you’re afraid of the grocery store because of the squid you see in the seafood case?” This allows them to correct or affirm what you said and means that you can make sure you understand.

It’s easy to get caught up in other things and forget to engage with the people around you, especially your children. Take the time today to talk to them and REALLY LISTEN to what they have to say. We promise it will make a difference in your relationships and open up a dialogue that can reduce the risk that they will be sexually abused.

While every conversation counts, if you’re wondering why talking to your kids about sexuality is important, and how to begin those conversations at every age, visit our Let’s Talk resource page. For more information on having important conversations with your kids, visit our Let’s Talk page.

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