11 May 5 simple steps to getting the skinny on the safety of your kid’s workplace
A little background: So much of what we have been taught to believe about good communication centers around how we express ourselves verbally, our body language and other factors associated with us getting our points across. Sadly, we often miss the boat because we’ve had so little training – if any at all – in listening techniques. When it comes to our children, too often we look at the simple fact that we know more than our children as license to do all of the talking, especially in the area of safety.
Below are a series of steps that will help you have more productive dialogue with your child, and one that may ultimately save them from harm in their workplace, especially if they’ve recently started a job.
Step 1: Committing to actually listening. This is possibly the most difficult step to consistently follow, especially in the context of our children. Parents have a tendency to jump in with advice as soon as their children say anything that is contrary to established wisdom. An example we’ll use is the following statement:
“They’ve given me a helmet to wear but it’s so hot outside.”
This is the point many parents will immediately interject pointing to the obvious fact that wearing a helmet could save your life, etc., etc. While these points may be undeniably true, offering them at this juncture in the conversation will only have a negative effect on step 2.
Step 2: Building trust. To create an environment that your child will feel is safe for them to communicate truthfully requires a high level of trust. By jumping in as detailed in step 1, the ‘grown up vs child’ dynamic comes into play which will only create resentment, followed by a wall between both parties. Your child may very well shut down and the opportunity to get any sense of what is really going on in their workplace will be lost. The best way to build trust is by giving them space and listening, which paves the way for step 3.
Step 3: Validation. While your logical side may wish to immediately respond as detailed in step 2, validating your child’s perspective will go a long way. A response to their decision to not wearing a helmet on a hot day could be, ‘it can sure get sweaty wearing a helmet on a hot day.’ Not only does this recognize their perspective, it contributes to building trust.
Step 4: Patient Probing. This could be categorized under ‘proactive listening’ another area covered on the BringSafetyHome.com website. A question to follow the above exchange might be, ‘does anyone else not wear their helmet?’ The response could possibly be, ‘well actually my boss doesn’t and he makes fun of the guys who do.’ This is a crucial step in that it is the one that leads to uncovering factors that would otherwise go undetected.
Step 5: Consultative Recommendations. This is the most delicate step. While our instincts may be to immediately go into advice mode, this approach could undo all the good that has been achieved up until this point. Rather than immediately offer solutions, engage in a conversation that allows them to express their opinions. A lead off question might be, ‘Your boss sounds like he’s a risk taker. How do you feel about the situation?’ Following their response and depending on it, another question might be, ‘Are you concerned about getting hurt – I’m just thinking about that time you fell backwards on the ice and you were glad you were wearing a helmet.’ Keep in mind that depending on circumstances (the age of your child or the severity of the danger), you may even wish to intercede.
By following these steps you may uncover much more than meets the eye and see yourself playing a proactive role in creating the safest possible circumstances for your child at work.