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Connect with children

It is crucial you connect with children to assess risk. Practice reviews often find that assessments have not included any interactions or conversations with the child. Connections with children can begin in infancy.

In this section, you can find advice on (and examples of) how to talk to children during your risk assessment.

How violence is hurting the child

Learn more about connecting with children to explore violence and the impacts of violence in the part of this practice kit that focuses on working with children.

Talking to very young children
Practice considerations Conversation ideas

What if the child is too young for me to talk to?

Find a time to observe the child. This could be in their home or at school or day care.

Young children often show more than they tell. If possible, spend time playing with a child. This will give you a sense of how they are developing and how they respond to adults.

Be gentle and aware of the sound of your voice or any sudden movements. Infants who have been hurt by domestic violence are likely to be sensitive to their environment.

Talk to others in the child’s life such as day care staff, doctors and family members.

Talking to school age children
Practice considerations Conversation ideas

Talk about talking. This gives children the opportunity to control the pace of the conversation.

Talk about other children. This gives children the message that they are not alone and that there is violence in other homes too.

Use observations as well as direct questions. Ask permission to share your observations. This provides a break from direct questioning, and provides children with a framework for understanding their experiences.

If we were to talk about your dad, what would be good about talking about what happens at home? What would be not so good?

Other kids have told me [something about their experience]. Is it the same for you or different?

I noticed you stopped smiling when we talked about Paul. What do you think about when we talk about Paul?

Is it okay if I tell you what I am thinking?

It seems to me that … It looks like … I was just thinking … [Let them know your observations.]

Try to get a clear sense of how the violence is affecting them in different areas of their lives.

Do you ever find it hard to listen at school? What are you doing or thinking about when you find it hard to listen?

Tell me about your friends. Do you have any troubles with any kids at school? Do you have friends come over to play?

What play do you like to do? When do you play? Who plays with you?

Tell me about your sleeping. Is sleeping hard or easy? Do you like to sleep? What is happening when you are in bed?

Some children respond well to the miracle question.

If a miracle happened tonight while you were asleep, and all your worries disappeared, how would things be different tomorrow? How would you know the miracle had happened? Who else would notice?
Use scaling questions to understand how safe they feel. How do you know if you are worried or sad? What goes on in your body that tells you? What is happening to make you sad? Or worried? What about when you are happy?


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