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This article talks about how to teach kids about good and bad touch.
- Give them ownership of their body & tell them that no one has a right to touch them unless it’s okay with them. At ages 2- 3.25 they should know that their bodies belong to them and that they can reserve certain parts as ‘private.’ Even if it’s something like holding hands with someone or having a friend hug or kiss them, they know they have the right to say no if they don’t like it.
- Use Appropriate Language – Teach them the correct names for their anatomy. I think it really helps them to have that knowledge in case they ever need to talk about anything.
- Keep Conversation Light and Easy – One thing I find that helps is keeping these kinds of conversations serious but still unemotional (almost lighthearted) so that kids feel very comfortable talking about it and asking questions. And try to let these conversations happen naturally and work them into our everyday life. Like talking about it during potty or bath time.
- Use the undergarment rule – In the guidance lessons in kindergarten classes children were told that if your undergarments covers it, it’s a private area and no one should be seeing or touching that area. Tell a grown-up if someone is touching you in the wrong places because it’s a Mommy and Daddy’s job to keep you safe. It’s a simplified version but easy for younger children to understand it. I recommend the line be ANY touch/space intrusion that makes the child uncomfortable. And we cannot forget that the mouth should be considered a private area, too.
- Explain what safe touch is & give them concrete examples – like getting a shot at the doctor’s office, or being pulled out of the street, etc.
- Empower them to say NO – I also always stress that if someone touched children in a way they didn’t like to tell that person to stop … and to ALWAYS tell their parents about it. Keeping the lines of communication open, even with AND especially with, our private areas is of UTMOST importance!
- Help your child trust their feelings. Kids should be taught to trust their own feelings.
- Practice or Role Play – My kid and I practice what she should say (‘No, I don’t like that. STOP!’) and do (tell me or your father) if she is ever asked to show or are touched in the private areas.
I sincerely hope that these thoughts help to make this a more comfortable conversation for you and your kids which ultimately leads to fewer children being sexually abused.
Dr. Sharmila Majumdar
Make an Appointment with Dr. Sharmila Majumdar at the Sexual & Mental Health Clinic, Avis Hospital, Hyderabad