An 8 month old is sexually assaulted, a two-year old was killed after being raped, a 6-year-old succumbed to death and many thousands are living and dying with horrid sexual assault memories and traumas. Some find love and some detest it.
Each time I read such a news I hug my child a little more tight, with a tear trickling from the corner of my eyes, I feel a shiver down my body ” and then the thought and importance of teaching our kids about safe touch and bad touch resurfaces.
At 18 months my child knew the appropriate names for his private parts and the fretful mom in me now keeps reiterating about good touch/ bad touch, although I don’t know if he understands any of it, but he clearly tells me when he is hurt or in pain.
Sometimes a loud and clear NO is so difficult to say, but those are the times “a loud and clear No” is the most important thing to say. Let us teach them about voicing their feelings, let’s tell them that a ” No” is not bad. let us make them strong, strong enough to never feel the need to fit in or the fear of being labelled as “Rebel”. Call me paranoid or overprotective, but it’s better to teach our kids and talk about safe/unsafe touch than to be sorry later.
As parents the safety of our little ones is perhaps the most important thing of all. While we cover it all, there are times we fail or overlook talking about safe touch.
How do you begin introducing about safe and unsafe touch, it can be sensitive and a tricky topic to start, but only till you are uncomfortable and if you are uncomfortable you are most likely to make your kid feel the same.
Sharing here some tips on introducing safe touch to your kids.
1. Teach them about body parts using the right words for all the parts. Teach them how they should not allow anyone touch their private parts and how they shouldn’t touch anybody else’s. There could be exceptions when a doctor needs to examine their body by touching, but that too should happen in front of mommy or daddy.
2. Respect their choice- don’t force kisses, hugs or tickles if they say no. What you preach should be practiced at home. Don’t ask for kisses if your little one doesn’t want to shower his/her love on you.
3. Make use of bath time to talk about body safety, private parts. Use swimwear rule as a base, what’s covered in the swimwear is your private part and should not be touched by anybody without ones consent.
4. Talk about the people who your child can confide in whenever he/she feels uncomfortable with someone; ensure that your child is comfortable with these people. This is their safety network that they can fall back on.
5. Talk Talk Talk and make “no secrets from mumma or daddy” a house rule. When your child is back home from school/day care take details of their activities, who they met what they did.
6. Don’t make your body safety talks too serious, this can make them uncomfortable and hesitant to talk about it when they really need to.
Here are some handy aids that can come in use while to talk about the human body to your kid.
The three books that I would recommend are
“My Body Belongs to Me”
“My Body What I Say Goes”
“Some Parts are Not for Sharing”
• Role play – Roleplays are the best ways to teach if it’s more than one kid. They remember it better and also understand well through Roleplays.
• Videos can make it easier for kids to understand safe/unsafe touch check this video and few others on youtube. Videos are best suited for kids over 3 years.
Apart from creating safer and happier environment and educating your kid, be open to conversations with your child and take cues from his/her behaviour.