Parents teach their kids how they can keep themselves safe by following some safety measures while crossing the road, while driving a car, etc. But some discussions are harder than others, like a conversation on sexual harassment. How does one start such a conversation with their kids?
According to Mott C.S., many families couldn’t speak to their children about unacceptable touching during a Michigan Medicine Nationwide Survey on a kid’s health. Even after a specialist told the parents to talk to their kids about “Body health” during early school years, very few families held the conversation.
At the same time out of 4, one elementary school-age kid’s family says they have not spoken of unacceptable touching. Their reasons for not having this conversation ranged from not feeling the need to do it to the kid is too young to handle it. They didn’t want to frighten the child. Besides that, they were not even aware of how to start the talk.
What Should Parents Watch Out For?
While growing up, children need to remain alert all the time. While there is no reason to be unnecessarily distrustful towards your child’s visitors, you mustn’t be too trustful too. Many reports show that in most of the case, a sexual predator isn’t someone from the outside. Rather, as disturbing as it might sound, it is someone who is well connected to you – and your child. The idea is to note some unusual behavior on the part of your kid and the person involved.
Difference between a good touch and a bad touch
Good touch: A touch that helps a child feel safe, looked after, and happy. For example, the touch of a mother who hugs her child, grandparents who kiss their child, or even a doctor who checks up an infant. Any contact that brings happiness or security to the kid is a good touch.
Bad touch: A touch that leaves an awkward, upset, or worried feeling is a bad touch. During and after a bad contact, a child will not feel safe. For example, if a person approaches your child and asks him/her not to tell anyone about it later on. If your kid gets awkward when hugged or touched, that is a bad feeling.
How can you teach your children about good and bad touch?
The following are some suggestions on how you can educate your child about this subject:
1. Teach your children they are the boss of their bodies
You need to communicate with your child about their body. Dickson suggests that you can begin the conversation with ‘This body belongs to you. Let’s think about ways to make your body healthy, or make it safe.’ Encourage them to speak out when anything hurtful is being done by a friend, relative, or fellow student. Instruct them to stand up for themselves even when they are in a company by saying, “Stop, it is my body, and I’d like you to stop.”
“You would like to assist them to use their own body parts, or feel very comfortable by drawing them the limits,” says Dickson.
2. Talk to them casually and easily
As it is a sensitive topic, strive to keep the discussion casual, so that the child feels comfortable talking about it. Use daily events to introduce the subject. For instance, while you’re eating together, or while you’re bathing your child, introduce the topic in regular conversation.
3. Tell them about good and bad touch:
Tell your kid that a good touch would never make them feel uneasy or frightened, as compared to the bad touch. Teach them to run away when someone tries to grab them improperly or when they feel frightened or unsure.
4. Tell them they can share everything with you
It’s important to establish a relationship of confidence with your kids, right from an early age. Convince them you will be around for them, to believe them, and to support them whenever they want to share something with you.
5. Teach about different body parts to your child at an early age
It’s okay to provide your kid with sexual education, at least at an early stage. This part of their education starts with you telling your kid about the private parts of your body that people shouldn’t touch.
6. Use the right language
Always try to use the right terms and the correct language when talking to them about their anatomy. Let them realize that their body is not dirty or taboo, or that there is a difference between female or male bodies.
7. Follow the swimsuit rule
The best way to educate your kid about an acceptable and unacceptable touch is by going with a swimsuit code. Inform them that areas protected by a swimsuit are personal, so no one should touch them there. Also, inform them to immediately report about any incidence in which anyone touched or tried to touch them in any such region.
8. Tell them they can and must say NO!
You must let your kid know that they can resist and say a definite ‘No’ and ‘Stop’ if anyone tries to touch them inappropriately. Explain to your kid that they should stop others from touching them if they don’t feel comfortable with it. They should say a clear NO! Even if someone wants to hug or kiss them and they feel awkward or scared, they can say ‘No.’ clarify that they can stop any person from coming close to them and they need not hesitate in doing so. Kids should know that crying and drawing other people’s attention will put them in a secure spot or their molester in a closed corner.
9. Teach them to get away from that place:
Show your child how to move away from any such position as quickly as possible. They need to know that even in the future, they should never be alone with their offender. Being alone with the victim might encourage the offender to repeat the crime.
10. Help them understand that it is not their fault:
The kid must understand that he/she is not responsible for the wrongdoings of anyone else. You should reassure them that a person who improperly touches them is the only one to be blamed and that they do not have any reason to feel any kind of guilt. You should not impose affection on the child. A pleasant hug from a family member or a friend’s peck should only be allowed if your child understands it and feels at ease with it.
The healthiest way to keep your kids safe is by keeping the child well-information. Try your best to maintain a solid and transparent relationship with your kid so they know they can trust you at all times. Remember, studies show that in most instances, an abuser is related to the child and not a complete stranger. Thus, appropriate education is crucial. The right time to take the first step is right now.