Privacy Circle of Family and Friends

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MAKE YOUR OWN PRIVACY CIRCLE OF FAMILY AND FRIENDS

How many times has your child embarrassed you by blurting out personal information to a stranger? Or invited a neighbor that you barely know to a party at your house? Both of these things have happened to us. We have also been on the other end of the information, too. We work with children at their schools and in their homes. Part of our work depends on us having a warm and trusting relationship. So it is not surprising when a child will start to tell us about an argument their parents had or how their dad farted really loudly at dinner. However, this information is neither helpful or appropriate for us to know. Beyond making embarrassing remarks, “Stranger Danger” is also an important lesson to teach our children. But rather than frightening or embarrassing them, we prefer to make it really clear what is appropriate to share with the different people the children may encounter. To help children understand what to share, we often use Privacy Circles to explain this confusing concept.

Circle of Family and Friends

To make a privacy circle that is relevant to them, the child should be involved in deciding who is in their circles. They may feel more comfortable sharing their secrets with a friend rather than an aunt or uncle.

The first step is to fill in the circles with the people in their lives. The center circle is the child and the outer circle is strangers. For children, the circle around them is always their parents (or the person acting as their parent) but for teenagers the second circle may be their best friend. (Sorry, parents, but it’s true.)

Once the circles are filled in, it is time to start defining what that means. Give examples of different situations and topics. You can write these on a post it note and stick it in the appropriate circle. Talk about who you might say these things to and why. Talk about how they would feel if you shared something that was private to them with the mail carrier. Here are some examples of things that you can talk about:

  • Who do you wave hello to?
  • Who would you tell your name?
  • Who would you tell your address?
  • Who would you tell where you go to school?
  • Who would you tell what sports you like to play?
  • If you have a problem at school, who would you tell?
  • Who can touch you?
  • Who would you tell, “My poo makes my bottom itch.”
  • Who would you invite to your home?
  • Who would you tell, “My parents got into a fight last night.”
  • Who, if anyone, would you tell, “My mom doesn’t like your mom.
  • Who would you share a secret with?

You can download a PDF template here.

It is best to use the privacy circle on an ongoing basis. Hang it on a wall. Whenever a situation occurs that is a teachable moment about privacy and sharing have them add it to their privacy circle. If a child starts to share something that they probably should not, just interrupt them and ask if it belongs in your part of their privacy circles. Remind them how they feel when someone shares something personal about them.

For young children you can use a simpler version with pictures:

Privacy Circle Simple Example

Enjoy a whole new world of privacy and appropriate behavior with this privacy circle activity!

You may also enjoy reading:

Put Your Thoughts On Ice Stick Up For Your Feelings Social Skills Game

39 Comments


  1. I really like the idea of this! It makes things so clear for younger kids

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  2. I LOVE this!!! Kids need to learn the difference early in life. It is ok for them to be social with others, but they need to know boundaries too!!

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  3. This is a really great idea to keep in mind when Amelia starts talking and blurting all our secrets to everyone hehe! Thanks for linking up #MummyMonday x

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    1. It’s true, those secrets get spilled pretty quickly. 😉

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  4. This is such a fantastic idea for teaching children boundaries when it comes to revealing personal information. Love it1

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    1. Thanks! It is a difficult concept for some children.

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  5. My child tends to see the world in extremes, and we live in the South where everyone is chatty and friendly. I think this tool will really help.

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    1. That makes us happy to think this tool will help you.

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    1. Sometimes we are better off not knowing. 🙂

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    1. Thanks, it really works.

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  6. This is a very helpful idea! Our kids need to learn what is appropriate and I appropriate to share. We as parents need to be ready with a journal to capture the funniest oops’ though. Children say the darnedest things!!

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    1. That is so true! We all should have that journal ready.

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  7. This is a great post.

    My youngest was 4 When we bought our fixer upper home. When asked how he liked his new house, he proudly told everyone he didn’t take baths anymore. Of course that was without following up with “because we have a shower, not a tub!” He had never used the shower portion of our bathtubs before and was quite proud of himself.

    Imagine my embarrassment at preschool.

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    1. One of the kids that we work with proudly told her preschool class that her mom could supply them with energy with her blubber. (She had just read a book about whales)

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  8. This is a great idea! Keeping this in mind for my son with asd, he just doesn’t have those in built filters about what is appropriate to share with different people, so I can see this type of visual really being a useful tool as he gets older. pinning!

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    1. Thanks, Anna. We use it with our clients with asd. It works great. Once they get the concept all you need to do is ask them “Is that in the privacy circle?”

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  9. Great idea! I like to think my son is pretty good at this, but my experience of parenting so far means that it means he’ll blurt out something next week 😉

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    1. Yes, we heard some pretty embarrassing things come out of kids’ mouths. 🙂

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  10. Such a great idea! I think my daughter is just about at the right age where she would be able to understand something like this. Thanks for sharing!

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    1. Thanks, it works great!

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    1. Yes, we have experience with the chatty, friendly small human. 🙂

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  11. I think this is a great idea. I especially like it that the child gets to decide who is in their circle. I love child-led activities that teach and encourage decision making at the same time. And THANK YOU for the pdf!

    Reply

    1. Thanks, Melissande and thanks for helping me fix my mistake. 🙂

      Reply

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