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Protecting Our Children

Role Playing Will Help Our Children Know How to Handle Difficult Situations

By JoAnn Hibbert Hamilton

It is eye-opening to many parents when they ask their grade-school children what bad language, stories, pictures, games, etc., they are running into on the playground or in their association with other children. Children will usually tell, if parents just ask, and most parents are surprised.

Dr. Lynn Scoresby in his book, "Bringing up Moral Children in an Immoral World," states that seven- and eight-year olds in every elementary school have access to sexually explicit pictures. I could hardly believe that, and so I started talking to second-grade teachers. They didn't even hesitate when I asked if they have children in their classroom who have access to sexually explicit pictures. “Oh, yes,” they instantly responded.

“How can you tell?” I asked.

“By the pictures they draw and the stories they write in class,” was the reply I received from each teacher. Now let's think about what children do with a picture that they consider “cool.” They share it, possibly on the playground.

So how do we help our children be prepared for this encounter? We say to them before they go to school, at about age six, “There are such things as bad jokes, bad stories, and bad pictures.” Then you tell them that if someone wants to show them something “cool,” but they have an uncomfortable feeling inside as they go to look at it. Such a feeling is a warning from God that what is there is not good. You might help your child identify that feeling by reminding him how he felt when he was caught telling a lie. Then you say, “Johnny, when you feel that feeling, don't go.”

We need to role-play with our children so they know how to handle that situation. You might say, “I've got a bad picture,” and see if they respond as you taught them. Ask them to tell you when they have an experience like this. Perhaps two weeks later, Johnny comes home from school and says, “Guess what happened in school today? My friends told me to come over and look at something cool. I got that bad feeling in my stomach, Mom, and I didn't go.” This is a good time to buy ice cream for a young man who did right. Then you want to maintain that relationship.

Perhaps if you haven't already taught Johnny that everything that goes in his mind will influence how he thinks and acts, now is a good time. He needs to understand that once he sees an inappropriate picture, he can't erase it out of his mind.

I talked to a mother yesterday who said her little 10-year-old girl opened a magazine she found on the magazine rack in a store and started looking at the pictures. She showed one to her five-year-old sister, who still says to her mother, “I can't get that picture out of my mind.” I believe that this is happening to lots of children, but most parents are not aware. Role playing and teaching can help our children avoid difficult situations.

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