Let’s talk “Appropriate vs. Inappropriate touch”
As an Indian parent, the most difficult part of parenthood is considered to talk to our kids about their bodies, sex, appropriate touch and inappropriate touch etc. Although things are changing lately, still a lot of us try to avoid the topic. It’s not that difficult but the taboo and stigma involved makes it difficult. So lets take the embarrassment out of this topic to make sure our kids are safe and aware. Here are few tips that will help you to prepare talking to your lovely kids about their safety.
## Give them ownership of their body – At around 15 – 18 months kids begin to understand what you talk to them. So time to time tell them that they own their bodies and no one has a right to touch them unless they are fine with it. Tell them they can reserve certain parts of their bodies as ‘private’. If they are not comfortable with even holding hands, hugging or kissing, they should know that they have a right to say NO.
## Keep it light – Don’t force the conversation on them. If they don’t want to talk at the moment, let them be. Talking to them about their body during bath time or potty time will be most easiest. Choose a time when it’s easy and comfortable for them to ask questions.
## Use correct language – At an age when kids start to get curious about their body parts and ask you questions, teach them correct names of human anatomy. Don’t skip chest and bottom like most of primary teachers and parents do. Don’t call it Susu or weewee, tell them it’s called Pubic zone or vulva if you are uncomfortable with names vagina and penis in front kids. This knowledge will really help them in case they see or experience something and want to stop it or want to talk to you about it.
## The three area rule – Tell them the three areas no one is allowed to see or touch and neither are they allowed to touch or see these three areas anyone else – Chest, Bums and Peeing area. Tell them that apart from these, their lips are also their private and no one is allowed to touch or kiss them. Also talk to them about exceptions, that while bathing mommy or daddy can touch them to keep them clean and sometimes doctor might need to touch them in presence of mummy or daddy.
## Talk to them about safe touch – Tell them that any touch that anyone can give in front of mummy or daddy is a safe touch. Still the power to say no is in their hands. So for example if an uncle touches their shoulder or rub their back in front of mommy or daddy is safe, but if they are uncomfortable, they can say no. In this case you as a parent have to make sure to gauge the situation and stop people from touching them if you feel it’s not right.
## Create a Safety circle – Talk to your kids about people they trust the most. Teach them that if they feel something inappropriate is happening to them or if they feel a bad touch, they should say NO and then later tell someone in their safety net.
## Use books and videos – it would be very easy to talk to them even you are reading a book about body parts to talk to them about touch. Also use activity books and videos to tell them about it.
## Tell them YELL RUN TELL rule – Tell them that if they feel something fishy, the first thing they need to do is yell NO and start crying loudly. And run to a safe place or to someone in their safety circle and tell them everything.
## Practice role play – practice with them what that need to say, like no, stop, I don’t like it etc and what they need to do, run, tell an adult etc.
Remember, this not a one time conversation. It needs to be build over a period of time. Once you have had the good touch bad touch discussion, repeat it at least every 6 months to reinforce using books, videos and role play method.
Banner image source – Huffingtonpost.com