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When we come across news on child abuse, kidnaps, molestation, etc., we obviously worry about our kids. If you are a parent to a young child, you will want to keep her safe and protected, no doubt, but to keep her safe, you can’t just lock her inside the house. If you want her to be confident and want her to achieve her dreams, you will have to allow her to leave the comfort of her home and explore the outside world. But at the same time, what you can do as a parent is to prepare your kiddo to face the (good and bad) world. In today’s times, it is imperative that you teach your child about good touch and bad touch. While you may think that your child is too young to understand the difference between the good and bad touch, sexual development, and other such topics, but she is not. You can broach these subjects with ease so that she learns about it from an early age & without getting scared.
Why Is It Important to Educate Your Child About Touch?
There is no reason to constantly fear for the safety of your child; however, as long as the likelihood of danger remains, you must educate your child about the various kinds of touch she can experience. An unwanted touch can appear in any form, and it need not be limited to sexual abuse. Even something as mild as a hug or caress from a relative might be unwanted. It does not matter if the touch seems fine to you; it matters only that your child is comfortable with it. The distinction you must make is this: good touch is physical contact that your child is comfortable with and bad touch is physical contact that makes her uncomfortable. Young kids are naturally trusting of the adults around them and will extend friendships towards strangers without any qualms. So it is up to you as the parent to ensure that your child understands the basic concept of self-preservation.
Teaching Your Child About the Good Touch
Good touch or physical affection is a wonderful way to bond with your child. Here are a few points to keep in mind when trying to explain to your child about good touch.
- Good touch feels nice and warm, and makes one feel safe and protected.
- Show them real-life situations which include good touches like hugs and kisses by you or your spouse. Or, for example, when they hold hands with their friends while playing.
- Teach her that her body belongs to her alone, and she has the absolute choice to deny anyone else, including yourself, from touching her if she wishes.
Teaching Your Child About the Bad Touch
Bad touch is far more insidious than it sounds and can lead to severe physical, emotional and psychological trauma if inflicted on a child. It is imperative your child knows how to discern between types of physical contact.
- Tell her that her body has different levels of security, that is being patted on the head or back might be acceptable but being fondled in the private regions such as the chest, buttocks and genitals is unacceptable.
- It does not matter if the touch happens with clothes on, it still counts as bad.
- Ensure that your child knows how to call out for help if she feels trapped or is in an uncomfortable situation.
What Should Parents Watch Out For?
Constant vigilance is essential when raising children. Even though there is no need to be blindly distrustful of strangers around your child, it is important you are not blind to risks that are closer to you. Several studies report that the most common sexual predator is not some stranger, but actually someone well-known to you or your child, as unpleasant as it is to consider. The key is to notice any strange behaviour from either your child or the adult in question. Abused children exhibit noticeable signs of distress in the presence of their abuser. Understanding that your child might be suffering means that you will have to rid yourself of any bias you might have for the potential abuser, no matter how close they are to you. This is understandably very difficult to do, especially if the potential abuser is a friend, family member or even your spouse, but always remember that your child depends on you for her safety and happiness.
Making Your Child Aware of Child Abuse
This is not an era where people shy away from mentioning anything sexual around their children. Children are quite able to grasp complex topics like sexuality and abuse. But you should be careful while explaining your child about sexual identity. You should explain how certain regions of her body are private, elaborate on how these spaces are delicate and must be protected from intrusion. Teach her to say no to strangers who offer treats or rides. Do not teach your kids to obey or respect any adult they come across if that adult is infringing on their physical space; instead, tell her to shout or fight back. And most importantly, let her know that you won’t punish or scold her for doing so, if she has done nothing wrong.
Tips for Educating Toddlers About Good Touch and Bad Touch
In this time and age, you must teach your child about the good and bad touch from early on. If you don’t know how to start, here are some tips for you. Follow these tips and teach your child –
1. Don’t Be Shy
Being uninhibited with regards to sexual matters is crucial, and though these topics might be sensitive to broach, you are where your child gets her cues from. Explain to her in an engaging way with examples she will be familiar with.
2. Try it the Informal Way
Don’t get too formal or technical while explaining about good or bad touch to your child. She can grasp complex notions, but she wouldn’t want to feel like she is being interrogated. Cut out the serious talk, and use a gentle and calm voice.
3. Bond With Your Child
Bond with your child over little things – play with her, dance with her, or just sit and chat. These little things will strengthen the bond you share with her and you will gain her trust. This will let her know that you are there for her and won’t judge her, should anything go wrong.
4. Stick to the Terminology
Don’t treat your child like an innocent being who should never learn sexual terms. Employing the appropriate terminology for the body parts, such as penis, vagina and so on, makes these parts feel important and you shouldn’t use slangs for them. The right words will be also helpful for your child to express herself accurately with respect to her body.
5. Try the Swimsuit Rule
This is a simple rule to follow when teaching very young children about bad touch. Explain to your child that the parts of her body covered by a swimming outfit or innerwear are private parts that should not be touched or seen by anyone except her. This way she will know if she is being inappropriately touched and can voice her responses to you. However, insist that she informs you if she feels uncomfortable by being touched anywhere on her body.
6. Talk About Safe Touch
Good touch feels great and is a bonding experience, while bad touch breeds discomfort and stress. But let your child know about the intermediate safe touch, which might feel bad but is actually necessary. For example, examinations by doctors, receiving injections and medical treatments might upset your child but she should know that these actions are necessary to safeguard her health.
7. Employ the Right Literature
There are several books around that you can use to teach your children about the right and wrong ways to be touched. These books usually come with pictorial representations of human anatomy, from which your child can learn about her body as well.
8. Allow Your Child to Back Off
Sometimes children just don’t feel like being touched and they don’t want anyone to kiss them or shower love on them. Some children can also be naturally distant. Don’t force them to provide physical affection, as this might cause them to associate touching you with their lowered moods. Let them walk away from any physical encounters if they want to, even if it upsets you.
9. Teach Your Child to Trust Herself
Your child should not feel guilty if she refuses affection from anyone for any reason. Tell her that when it comes to her own physical space, her feelings and decisions are paramount. This will teach her to trust her emotions with clarity.
10. Try Role Playing
Children are more amenable to visual narratives than a basic explanation. You can play small games with her where she can practice shouting for help or saying “No” if someone pesters her.
The value of physical affection is immeasurable. Hugs increase pleasure hormone levels, babies are soothed by direct skin contact, and so on. Your child will thrive best on loads of affection from close family and friends. But do keep an eye out for anything out of the ordinary as children can remain blissfully unaware of the several dangers that surround them. Finally, this has been said before but it bears repeating: Most abusers are known to either you or your child, so please do not brush it off if your kid tells you it was someone you trust.
Also Read: Personality Development Tips for Kids