Girl Playing Volleyball

As parents and caregivers, something always on our mind is keeping our children safe. We often think of the obvious things such as making sure they are properly buckled in a car or wearing a helmet when riding a bike, but another way we can help make sure children are safe is something we might not always thing about – teaching boundaries. It is important that children also understand behaviors from others that are appropriate and inappropriate.

Helping children understand the difference between a secret and a surprise can be an important part of helping create a safe environment.


Secrets are often meant to be kept quiet for a long time and can cause people to feel sad, sacred, or confused.

Secrets are not allowed, and should be told to a trusted adult, especially if they make you sad, sacred, or break a body safety rule.


Surprises are kept quiet for a short time and then shared with others for a happy and positive result!

Surprises are usually for special events or celebrations like birthdays or gifts.

On that note, we think another important thing to help children understand and differentiate is the term privacy.

Privacy is about respecting another person’s space or information. Privacy does not hurt or compromise the safety of another person.

Helping children understand privacy is often included in a discussion to understand that genitals like penis and vagina are kept underneath clothing when in public

Below are some great examples you can read through with your children and talk through if they are a secret or surprise:

  • You are at the mall with your dad, and he buys earrings as a birthday present for your mom. He asks you not to tell her about it. Is this a secret or a surprise? Is it okay to keep it to yourself until your mom’s birthday?

  • Someone takes a picture of you and asks you not to tell. Is this a secret or a surprise?

  • You baked cookies for your teacher on the last day of class and you are excited to give them to her. Is this a secret or a surprise?

  • You are over at a friend’s house for a pool party, your friend asks you to leave their bedroom while they change into their bathing suit. Is your friend asking for privacy or is it a secret or surprise?

  • A friend wanted to show you their private parts in the bathroom. Is this a secret or a surprise?