JBCN School Blog
HowTo Talk With Your Child About Good And Bad Touch
No matter how heartbreaking or uncomfortable it may be or some parents may even feel that their children are too young to have this discussion. Others may not know where to begin. But, it is imperative to educate our young children on what is acceptable and what is unacceptable or inappropriate touch – which is a breach of their Personal Safety.
A few tips on how this Topic can be introduced:
Is There A Right Time To Introduce The Concept Of Personal Safety?Knowledge is power and ignorance a fool’s bliss. It’s important that we create opportunities to talk to our children about what a good touch is and what is not like Radhika did.
Radhika and her twin 3.5-year-old were playing a game. Every time one of her twins completed a task, Radhika rewarded them with a hug. When they finished the game, Radhika asked them “Do you like that?” and then explained that a hug from mom is a good touch – which is why it brought happy feelings. Finding the right opportunities is of primary importance.
Children around the age of three years ie.in the Toddler years start asking questions about their body parts. That would be the right time to use this opportunity to teach them the accurate names of their Body Parts in an age-appropriate way.
Children evolve through different developmental stages as they acquire knowledge about their individual bodies:
Learning About Body – Identifying and labeling body parts – Mirrors in our homes are where the early learnings take place. Infants and toddlers can view themselves. Place posters with appropriately labeled encourage Natural explorations with Puppets, dolls, and related props such as clothes, housekeeping items, and role-playing items.
Learning About Body Awareness – Body functions and control – Initiate these by offering experiences to children to care for their personal world through Self Help activities like washing hands, folding their clothes and toilet training.
Learning About Body Communication – what we do affects others and ourselves. In the course of the knowledge and skills they acquire, children learn about Self-regulation, Self-Management and the beginnings of independence and autonomy. Using Role Play with dolls and toy figures as a technique can help in identifying appropriate ways to touch others as well as help very young children label and identify body parts.
1. Let’s First Begin By Explaining To Our Children About ‘Positive Touch’ As Understanding Touch Is A Crucial Learning In Childhood.A. How Touch is received and how it feels:
– Good Touch is when it brings happy feelings when you are hugged and kissed by people you love; like when Mumma, Papa give you a hug and a kiss when you go to bed or wake up. Dada-Dadi or Nana-Nani visit us and we all get hugs and kisses.
– Bad Touch is when it brings you discomfort or pain or makes you nervous or scared. It must not be kept a secret when someone touches you against your wish, or where you don’t want to be touched. If a person asks you not to tell anyone or something bad will happen, is when you need to tell your parents right away
B. The many roles touch plays – nurturing, soothing, helpful and so on:
A parent is the child’s first teacher and their knowledge about touch is also received foremost from their parents. Feelings of security, being loved and a sense of belonging are the earliest lessons learnt by our children.
C. Finally the Learning of Body Ownership:
Every individual has a right to control how their body is touched. As children go through the stages of body awareness, further guided by loving and nurturing parents, they learn to identify what is appropriate touch and what is not.
2.Teach Your Child The Names Of Their Anatomy:First and Foremost, They must know what to call their private parts without an iota of shame associated with it. It is just another part of their body like a hand, chin or an elbow. Just as a child is able to clearly share with a parent when in pain, about “What happened?” the child should be able to comfortably explain the exact location of the pain by using the accurate terminology for the body part to emphasize the situation. Reading a book on Human Body which shows Skeleton, Organs and body parts can definitely be learning.
3. Teach Them About Personal Space And Private Parts:Gently and lovingly explain to your child that some parts of their body are private and belong only to them. They are not for public viewing. In simple words, explain the definition of Private parts- those parts covered by the undergarments/Swimsuits are private parts and No one is allowed to touch their private parts. Only their parents are allowed to touch them-only while giving them a bath. A doctor might touch them but only in the presence of their parents. Initiate this talk when they are bathing, in their playtime or at the dining table rather than making it a serious conversation. Children sense the logic and remember the rule simplistically.
4. Teach Them To Say, “No” As Emphatically And Loudly As They Can:Encourage them to voice their opinion about their feelings. Even in play, if anything makes them uncomfortable, they have the choice of speaking out loud “Stop! I don’t like this play” whether it is to a Peer or any other Adult. Reinforcing this choice on a consistent basis empowers the child to say “No” and stand up for himself /herself in case of any incident which may make him/her uncomfortable.
It is imperative that the child understands that when a person touches them in an inappropriate way, it is never their fault and they must raise their voice. They must share the incident with an adult they trust and feel safe with.
5. Clear Boundary Setting For Personal Safety:Children should feel secure, loved and confident to draw clear boundaries and never allow anyone to cross their Personal Safety territory. Teach your child to communicate and express concern to you immediately and loudly even if the risk of Safety is from a known and close contact.
Teach Your Children The Following Safety Rules:
- It is not okay to touch someone else’s private body parts.
- It is not okay for someone to touch his or her own private body parts in front of you.
- It is not okay for someone to ask you to touch his or her private body parts.
- It is not okay for someone to ask you to take your clothes off except if they are a doctor helping to see if you are hurt or sick
- It is not okay for someone to take photos or videos of you with your clothes off.
- It is not okay for someone to show you photos or videos of people without their clothes on.
- You can decide who can touch you, who can kiss you, or who can give you a hug. You have the right to say, “no” loudly and clearly and you have the right to have your feelings respected.
6. Avoid Forced Displays Of Affection By Your Child:Let us train ourselves as parents not to force our children to hug or kiss any friend or family member. A smile, greeting from a distance is an acceptable display of affection. Physical contact is not essential. Model how to make eye contact and conversationally greet an elder instead.
7. Teach Them How To Seek Help And Express Needs When You Are Not Around:Incidents typically happen when a parent is not around. If ever, our children are made to feel insecure and uncomfortable in any way, teach them to go to the nearest adult they trust. Discussion with the child on situations — in school, at a park, at a friend’s house, at the airport will prepare them to seek help and to identify who to approach when not comfortable, especially in your absence.
8. Teach Them To Be With Peers Or Adults – Safety In Numbers:When out playing with friends, on a field trip, in school, impress upon your child to never wander off alone. Be together with teachers and adults.
9. Communicate! Express! Share!Encourage and set an example with your child to converse openly about their feelings, their likes and dislikes without any judgement. Respect their opinions. Keep reiterating that your love for them is unconditional and nothing they ever do will stop you from loving them. They must feel comfortable telling you about all their problems, big and small and not worry about the consequences of the same.
Parents, let’s open up a dialogue on Personal Safety with our children not just as a one-time conversation but make sure that you use opportunities during relaxed times to regularly reinforce this imperative discussion.
It is of utmost importance that the dialogue is brought about in a play-way and relaxed conversation. It could be during bath-time or playtime that this can be discussed. Look for simple opportunities to bring up the subject. Children will be able to focus on the topic at hand and absorb better without having fear come into play.
“What all children deserve and all of us want is safety, love and possibility” – Alan Robert Neal
– Neelu Kalro – Head of Pre-Primary & CAS Co-ordinator (IBDP)
(IBDP)JBCN International School, Oshiwara
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Posted on: Tuesday,2019,Dec,Tue