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What Do You Say To A 3yr Old Child Who Tells You That...


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Parents were fighting and she and her 4 yr old sister were crying at them to stop?

 

Little girl told me at snack time today. She called to me across the room to tell me. I knelt beside her and listened. She was looking for some words from me and I just didn't know what to say! Knowing that I can't ask any questions or say anything leading. I just said 'oh dear' and then said something about her sister liking school and that she enjoys preschool. Knowing that we provide stable happiness for her and hoping the same for her sister at school.

 

Knowing the family, the image I've conjured up is haunting me.

 

ppp

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Sometimes a hug and a kind word is all you can offer. What did the parent say when they collected?

 

I can quite see what the image in your head is haunting you. We all know very well the effects of witnessing domestic violence on small children, even if the fighting is 'only' verbal. Make sure you can offload your own worries and fears so that you can support this little girl - she has chosen you to confide in and my guess is that now that she's broken her silence she'll have more to share.

 

Good luck P3.

 

Maz

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Thanks Maz, I wonder whether it was physical fighting as I don't think that many 3 yr olds know shouting to be 'fighting'. Something I wanted to know but obviously couldn't ask. This isn't the first time as she's told similar things to other staff before, but used the term 'shouting'. Parents don't pick up, another family member does.

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:o Oh, PPP! I think I'd have said and done exactly the same as you!

 

I'm sure you'll have noted your concerns and will continue to do so. As upsetting as it is to be told these things, console yourself that she felt comfortable enough to talk to you about her feelings.

 

Nona

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Parents don't pick up, another family member does.

So how do you proceed in this situation then? Do you fill in incident reports for things like this? We do, as part of our discussions when a child makes a disclosure of this kind. It is a hard enough conversation to have with the parent, but if you don't actually see the parent it must be very problematic.

 

Maz

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I would offer the child reassurance, I would not question the child. I would complete a significant incident form. I would explain to the child in way that they understood (developmentally appropriate) that I would speak to mummy about what she had told me.

 

If mum doesnt collect I would phone her and make an appointment and explain what the child had said, I would ask mum how she was, if she needed any support. I would keep the lines of communication open at all times.

 

Claire x

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I would also speak to the parents, it may be an eye opener for them as they may not realise that their aruging/fighting?! is affecting their children. At the very least, a quiet empathetic talk with them may make them think before they argue in front of their children again, even if they are not able to take restock of the situation and settle their disagreements without 'fighting'.

 

I suppose it goes without saying, keeping an eye on the child and noting any changes of behaviour in case she and the family need further support and guidance.

 

By listening and caring you will have helped the child, she now knows she can talk to you and you will listen.

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Obviously I don't know the family but I'm not sure I'd assume the worst.

 

What couple don't have the occasional shouting match? I know me and my other half do from time to time (probably about once a month - ha :o ). Although we try not to do it in front of the kids, they also I think benefit from understanding that sometimes grown ups get cross with each other.

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I agree Suzie - I've often said to my own children 'stop fighting' when I mean'arguing'. I'm not saying that it's not damaging for children to hear arguing as well but I think we have to be very careful not to jump to conclusions.

I do think it's a good idea to have a quite chat, repeat what's been said and ask if any help can be offered. Funnily enough (not funnily enough) I have had two different 2 yr olds say "i hate you" (to a soft toy whilst playing, no older siblings) and the other one "daddy's a good daddy, mummy fight him"

What do you say!!??!! These are good parents who love their children. it's very sad

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I had the same situation last week. I was in the middle of writing an observation at the time so I was able to write down what the child was saying without stopping what I was doing. She just walked up to me and announces 'daddy hit mummy and mummy hit him back two times' The child I was observing then started asking the child questions so i just wrote it all down. I nearly gave the child a sticker after because she asked some really sensible questions that I obviously wouldn't/counldn't have asked.We have just shared this as a staff, added this to our other concerns and are keeping an eye on this child. We read the story at carpet time 'I always love you' about even when people get cross with each other doesn't mean they don't love each other or a child who has done something wrong.

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How awful to hear this from such a young child. :o It's so hard when children reveal things like this to know what to say or do. 'm concerned as to why you feel you can't ask any questions of this child though. Yes we have to be careful not to ask leading questions, but this doesn't stop us from asking any questions at all and I feel very frustrated when I hear how afraid everyone is of questioning children about what they say or about injuries/marks etc. Questions show you are interested and give the child a cue to perhaps reveal more. If you never ask questions how will you ever get to the bottom of the problem? Something serious may lie undiscovered because someone failed to ask a question and encouraged the child to open up (some children need this no matter how caring the environment/professional). This is what we were told very firmly on a recent child protection course.

 

Whilst you can't say "Did daddy hit mummy?" or even "What happened then?" (because the latter implies something else did happen) you can certainly ask "What do you mean by fighting?" or "Why were they fighting?" or something else similar. There is a huge difference between asking questions and asking leading questions and I know it's a confusing issue and one that is worrying but please don't be put off questioning. It can seem so much easier not to ask any questions in order to avoid asking leading ones and advisors from the LA who are worried about things coming back on them might say this too but in the end is this really what is best for the child?

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