Teaching your child about body safety can be a difficult conversation to have with them. We’ve put together a guideline and helpful tips to for when you decide it is time to teach your child about body safety.
Why should I teach my children body safety?
Body safety is one of the most important learnings for your child. As a parent, we teach them about other safety topics such as swimming pool and water safety (check out our post here), if they get lost in a store, not to touch hot surfaces, etc. So, why not teach them about their body and how to keep it safe?
Today, we are seeing more women and men speak up that they were victims of sexual abuse or assault. Teaching children how to protect themselves and what to protect themselves from is important. Luckily, the topic of body safety is becoming less taboo.
How do I teach my children about body safety?
Starting the conversation may be the hardest part, but you’ll be glad you did.
Teach them the proper names for their body parts instead of using made-up words that sound silly. When your child is older, around 3 years old, they can learn about safe and unsafe touches. It is a good idea to refrain from labeling these touches as ‘good’ or ‘bad’. Your child knows these words and will be less likely to tell you if they were touched inappropriately in fear of getting in trouble because the behavior/action was called ‘bad’.
A good guideline, that is easily understood by children, no one should touch them where their bathing suit covers.
Teach them who they can come to and tell if they were touched where their bathing suit covers. They should be able to list 4-5 people. Instruct them to keep telling someone until they are helped. They may not always feel comfortable telling you, so be sure to include such persons on their list like their caregiver, doctor, teacher, other relatives, etc. Your child should also be taught the difference between safe and unsafe secrets. Start by putting this into terms they can easily grasp. A birthday present is a safe secret to keep because the person will open the present at the party and know the secret. It is an unsafe secret if the person you are keeping the secret from is never to find out.
Repeat what you have taught them. As they get older, you can change up scenarios, language, and detail for their level of understanding. There are many great resources out there to help foster this conversation. Educate yourself so that you may educate your children too.