With all the news out there about child molestation , that goes on for years without the predators being caught, we often ask ourselves. How can we keep our children safe?
Teaching our young kids about safe touch unsafe touch is very vital. The two most important keys in teaching
them about safe touch is our guidance and communication/conversations. It is never too early to teach our kids about this.
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1. Teach body parts.
Name body parts with your kids. Awareness is the first step on being comfortable with their bodies.
Activity to do : Use this people shapes and help them label all the body parts. Make it a fun craft day.
2. Teach the "privates" and "privacy"
After you've helped your kids in naming body parts, show them the "private parts". Explain that those private parts are private. Meaning we do not share our private parts . Explain and differentiate when a touch is okay and appropriate versus not okay and inappropriate --> going to your doctor's visit , when mom or dad helps you in the bathroom or when he or she is being helped when hurt.
The book, The Right Touch by Sandy Kleven is a great tool. It is a gentle read aloud story. In the story, young Jimmy's mom explains the difference between touches that are positive and touches that are secret, deceptive or forced. She tells him how to resist inappropriate touching, affirming that abuse is not the child s fault.
3. Their body belongs to them.
Explain to your kids that if anyone asks to see or touch their "private parts", they should say NO . Tell them that their body parts ..private parts belong to them and that NO ONE should touch it without their permission ( again, differentiate when a touch is appropriate). That it is not okay for someone to ask them to take off their clothes, it is not okay for someone to take pictures or videos of them without their clothes.
In the same matter, teach them that other people have private parts too and that they should respect it too.
4. Fine line between POLITE and CONSENT.
This is such a sensitive topic for some families. As parents, we want to teach our kids to be respectful and polite most especially with RELATIVES AND FRIENDS. ( Hello Aunties and Uncle's, Grandma and Grandpa). There were times when family get really hurt and offended when our girls would not give a kiss or a hug. Please for Pete's sake, let's not force our kids to give hugs and kisses..when they don't want to.
We NEED to clearly teach our kids about consent. By forcing them, we are confusing them about ownership of their body. Their body belongs to them. Let's not confuse them that they do not have control of their own bodies. Offer an alternative instead, like a "flying kiss" or " sing a song for them".
5 .Play the game of SAFE TOUCH AND UNSAFE TOUCH.
Make a list of "touches" . Use index cards and on on each card, write a name of a touch. Example : hitting, kicking, visit to a doctor with mom and dad in the room, a person asking to touch their privates, pushing, pinching)
Let your kid draw a card and let them tell you if it is a safe touch or unsafe touch. Give rewards by all means. Make it a fun learning experience.
6. Keep the conversation open .
Refrain from being impatient about answering questions. Believe me, as hard as it is for us to explain this difficult topic to them , it can also be confusing to their young minds. Keep the conversations open and gentle for their young minds. Use age appropriate explanations. We want them to learn and not frighten them .
Do not have this conversation only once. Revisit often.
7. NO secrets
Whatever made them feel unsafe, uncomfortable , scared and upset , confused about a touch-- Assure them that they need to tell you or a trusted grown up. No secrets. When you talk to them openly , gently and honestly ( age appropriate though), it sets a tone of trust and safety..that they can talk to you about anything.
8. Pro active
As I have mentioned above, don't let this be a one time conversation. Revisit these talks. Watch a video about safe touch , read books about safe touches. You are your kids advocate. You are your children's voice. Let's equip them.
Here's a short video on child safety - NO TOUCH.
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