My 9-year-old recently had a several-week bout of insomnia. He has never had sleep issues so, by the third or fourth night, I started to worry about things that could have potentially triggered this.
My husband and I asked him about school, friends, and fears. We racked our brains trying to think about frightening news items he might have seen or heard about.
All these were the easy questions, though. We still had to delve into one last disturbing topic with our son: sexual abuse. Pediatricians are trained to always be on the lookout for instances of potential sexual abuse--but asking the right questions and having a conversation with a child about this topic are hard, even for a pediatrician!
Fortunately, my son's insomnia ran its course and we are fairly certain that nothing horrible happened to him to cause it.
Sadly, sexual abuse is much too common. The topic is frightening to both parents and children. So what do you need to know to help you and your child navigate this topic and, it is hoped, prevent it from happening?
Fortunately, as I said, my son's insomnia ran its course and nothing horrible seemed to be behind it. But this episode opened up a conversation about all the issues above, and reminded me that this discussion needs to be ongoing between you and each of your children.