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Talking with children to assess risk

Here are conversation ideas to use when talking to children—to assess risk.

Topic Conversation ideas
How are you hurting?
  • How do you know if you have done something to upset your parents?
  • What kinds of things would upset them?
  • What kinds of things would get you in trouble?
  • What kinds of ways do you get in trouble?
  • Are there times you feel Mum or Dad get you in more trouble than others?
  • Have there been times you have been scared or worried about being hurt?
  • Have there been times you have been hurt in your heart? What about on your body?
What is day-to-day life like?
  • Can we make a book together called ‘A day in the life of me’?
  • Start the day when you wake up and go all the way through until going to bed and waking up the next morning.
  • [Ask the child to draw pictures to describe each part of their day. Prompt questions along the way:
    • Who would be here in this part of your day?
    • What would they be doing?
    • What would you be thinking and feeling and what would you do when that is happening?]
How safe, nurtured and cared for do you feel?
  • When do you feel happiest and most loved?
  • Have there been times you have felt lonely, sad or invisible?
  • What has made you feel like that?
  • What do you do in these times?
  • On a scale of 0–10, how safe do you feel?
  • On a scale of 0–10, how loved do you feel by Mum, Dad, brothers/sisters, relatives?
  • If you need a cuddle or want to feel loved, who do you go to? How do they show you that they love you?

Who are you close to?

Who do you trust?

  • Who in your family or home do you feel closest to?
  • Who do you feel is always there for you?
  • Who would you say always has your back?
  • When things are tough at home, who do you call on?
What sense do you make of your parent’s AOD use?
  • Have you heard of people who drink or use drugs?
  • What do you know about it?
  • Have you ever seen anything like this in your life or in your family?
  • How does it make you feel?
  • What happens?
  • What do you and others do?
  • Have you ever spoken to your Mum or Dad about their alcohol or other drugs (AOD) use?
  • Would you like to speak to them?
  • Have you ever spoken to anyone else about your parent’s AOD use?
What do you hope for?
  • What things would be different or what would you change for your life to feel better?
  • What would you want your parents to do?
  • What would you do?
  • What would others do?
  • What things do you want your parents to know about?
  • What feelings do you want them to know about?
  • What things do you want them to do or change?

Read about ideas on how to talk, play and observe children of different ages in the Working with children section. 

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