Parenting Coach

Practical ideas for social, emotional and behavioral challenges

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Discuss secrets and social boundaries.

What you can do

Help your child understand the importance of keeping friends’ secrets. Talk about trust and what happens to relationships when you violate that trust.

Discuss specific examples of social boundaries. Talk about which ones should not be crossed. Make clear that there are exceptions to these rules, such as when a friend is being bullied or is considering harming himself.

What you can say

“Jacob, Nick was really upset you told other people he has a crush on Lavonne and was going to ask her out. He asked you to keep that a secret, and now it’s likely to be spread around by the people you told.”

“I know it’s fun to hear gossip, and it may seem like fun to share gossip. But whatever attention or popularity you get from spreading gossip won’t last very long.”

“Nick trusted you with confidential information, and you violated that trust. I hope you can figure out a way to make this better with Nick. He’s your best friend.”

“When a friend tells you a secret, you should keep it. There’s only one exception to this rule. Let’s say Nick told you he was sick of being bullied and that sometimes it makes him feel so bad he wants to jump off the roof.”

“Even if he swore you to secrecy, this is something you should tell me or another adult. It’s a difficult situation. You don’t want to violate Nick’s trust. But you don’t want him to harm himself either.”

Why this will help

Sometimes kids with learning and attention issues just can’t keep something to themselves. Violating a friend’s trust can have major consequences. Making sure your child understands this will help him reflect more before he decides whether to tell someone else about a secret.

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