Younger kids may not be able to understand unwanted touch right away, so you can start with just safe and unsafe touch lessons.
Help them realize that what sets these two kinds of touch apart are their feelings about them.
One way to teach kids about safe and unsafe touch is to give them examples they can relate to. You can say:
“Lynne, when Andrew accidentally pushed you, and then John helped you up and put his arm around you, which one was the safe touch?”
Emphasize that They Are the “Boss of their Body”.
Emphasize that they have control over their bodies. And only they can choose who touches their body and how. Also, stress that they can exercise that control over anyone, even with relatives.
Here are some tips to help kids understand that they are the boss of their body:
- Demonstrate how to assert control. For instance, say: “I don’t like it when you jump on me. Please stop.”
- Impose rules among siblings, like “If your brother says stop when you tickle him, then you need to stop.”
- Likewise, show that you respect their need for privacy or their dislike to be touched. Offer words such as: “It seems like you don’t want to cuddle right now. Alright.”
- Remind them that they don’t need to give nor receive hugs and kisses from relatives if they don’t want to. Tell them they can say no.
- Ask for your relatives’ support. Inform them that you are teaching your kids the value of being in control over their body.
Practice the “No, Go, Tell” Approach
Finally, practice “No, Go, Tell” with your kids.
“No, Go, Tell” is a simple way to teach kids about what to do if they don’t feel safe with someone’s touch. Instruct them to:
- Say “No” loudly so that the other person will hear them.
- “Go” or run away from the person and go straight to the people who make them feel safe.
- “Tell” you or a trusted adult about what happened, so that you can keep them safe.
For older kids who can understand these dangers more, consider giving them specific scenarios that require the “No, Go, Tell” approach.
You can tell them that it’s not okay when:
- Someone touches your private parts and it’s not because the person wants to keep you safe and healthy. This is important because doctors and parents also touch children’s private parts.
- A person touches their private parts in front of you.
- A person asks you to touch their private parts.
- Someone asks you to remove your clothes and then take photos and videos of you.
- A person shows you photos or videos of themselves without their clothes on.
Please remember that the “Tell” part of the “No, Go, Tell” is crucial. According to experts, secrecy is almost always a part of physical or sexual abuse. And it keeps parents and guardians from taking the necessary steps to intervene or help rehabilitate a child, should any form of abuse happen.
Learn more about parenting and child safety, here.