How to teach young children to keep their bodies safe from unwanted touch, or worse.
by Susie E. Caron © 1/11/15
Our young children, ages 0-9 years, need to know how to protect their bodies, and souls, from unwanted touching or worse. It’s difficult for parents to talk about this sensitive issue with very young children. However, a parent's worst nightmare may be avoided, when little children are taught these two lessons, as early in life as possible.
Tickle Game. Ages 0-5 years
This is a game you play with toddlers, preschoolers and very young children.
The next time you are tickling your child, while they are giggling, they will naturally say something like,
"No.” “Stop." or "Don't."
This is a perfect teaching moment. You want your child to learn that he/she has the final say over what happens to his/her body. This is what you do:
As soon as the child utters anything like "No”, “Stop”, or Don’t", you immediately pull away, jump back and put your hands up in the air and speaking excitedly say this,
"Oh, I have to stop! You don't want me to tickle you anymore?
If you want me to stop, I have to stop because your body belongs to you."
When your child indicates he/she wants you to continue, start tickling again and when the stopping words show up, immediately throw your hands away from the child, stand up and repeat.
"Remember, your body belongs to you and only you can say when you want tickled or not.
When you both have finished playing, give them a hug and tell them to remember,
“You own your body and nobody is allowed to tickle or touch you when you say stop.”
The Bathing Suit Places Chat. 3 – 9 years+
Watch for an opportunity to talk with your child about who can see them undressed, and who is allowed to touch them and under what circumstances. The object is to teach that nobody can touch them in their Bathing Suit places, unless you say it's okay.
Here’s what you do:
When you are bathing, drying, helping kids to change clothes, or get into or out of their bathing suits, simply ask these three questions.
1. “Is it okay for anyone to touch you in your bathing suit places?” This will seem strange so as your child looks to you for the ‘correct’ answer begin to quietly shake your head, ”No”. You can add here that it’s okay for Mommy, Daddy, the doctor sometimes, just to keep you healthy, etc.(Keep the list of people extremely restricted.)
2. Next ask: “Is okay for anyone to ask you to touch them in their bathing suit places?” Be prepared, because children really don’t know the answer. Begin to shake your head, “No,” and say “No, it isn’t okay for anyone to ask you to touch them in their bathing suit places. I know you wouldn’t do that either.”
3. Finally, ask, "Is it okay for you to touch yourself anywhere on your own body?" If your child hesitates, just offer the answer “Yes,” and ask, “Do you know why it’s okay for you to touch yourself? It’s because your body belongs to you!” (Note, I like to poke at my face and arms while making funny faces when I say this. It makes them laugh and keeps the conversation G rated.)
What you are doing is firmly establishing in their minds and through speaking in their own words that it isn’t okay for anyone to touch them or to touch someone else in their bathing suit places. However, because they own their own body, it is okay for them to touch themselves.
Don’t keep talking about this for more than the time it takes to dry off your child after a swim. For the lesson to sink in, you have to carry it off quickly and gently without showing signs of anxiety about the subject. Finally, gently say, “If anyone bothers you by wanting to touch you or asking you to touch them in their bathing suit places, come tell me as soon as you see me. I want to always keep you safe.” Then give your child a hug and let them go play.
I hope this information helps you to speak with your kids about body safety. Ultimately, I hope arming them with information like this will also help them to stay safe.
Please share this article with your friends and comment below to tell me what you think about keeping kids safe.
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Susie E. Caron
Susie E. Caron MA,
Author, Blogger, Podcaster,
Christian, Wife, & Mother, helps build parent-child relationships, 1 blog, book & podcast at a time.
Welcome! I recently retired from combined careers in teaching, psychotherapy, and parent coaching to spend more time writing.
When I'm not busy creating books or articles, you might find me looking for dark chocolate or riding my beautiful horse Apple in the woods and fields of Vermont.
These articles are for educational and self-help purposes only and are not intended as psychotherapy.
If you experience unusual symptoms or discomfort please see your medical or mental health practitioner.
No patent liability is assumed for use of the information contained. The author disclaims any responsibility for loss or risk for use or application of this material.
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Blog Reviews & Thank You!
July 13 at 7:17pm ·
Just wanted to say that I love your posts about the different ways to connect/relate/understand your child. It has given me a new approach towards understanding my daughter and allowing HER to tell me how she feels instead of me suggesting to her how she should feel. Thanks Susie!