body safety mummyonmymind

Body Safety | Guest Post

As a mother of two boys, body safety is a very important topic, to not only think about ourselves, but to introduce to our children from an early age. Personally, my husband and I have had a “casual chat” with my elder son when he started school in September last year, but I sure would like to know how I can expand on that and deliver the right message to my children in a way that they can best understand. Therefore, I am happy to introduce Rafia as a guest today on the blog to speak about this topic.

Rafia is an Early Intervention Specialist with seven years of experience working with children with additional challenges. Throughout her career she has supported children in developing their academic, sensory, social and communication skills, and overcoming challenging behaviour. Her experience ranges from one-on-one sessions in the home environment to classroom settings in inclusive schools and early intervention centers.

Body Safety, by Rafia Amber

Itis critical to talk to your child about Body Safety and Safe/Unsafe touch froma very young age. In a world where child abuse is becoming increasingly commonit is imperative that we equip our children with the skills to keep themselvessafe. They must know how to distinguish between good and bad touches, and howto communicate to a trusted adult immediately the first time anything of suchnature happens, before the perpetrator gets anymore chances.

Reading a book or watching a video makes introduction to any new concept so much easier to talk about. It gives you a range of characters and situations to refer to. It sparks the child’s curiosity and interest in said idea.This activity on Body Safety and Safe/Unsafe touch can ideally be done with a group of 4+ year olds, say during a play date, because children learn faster when they listen to each other’s responses. Or, it can be done individually with your child at home.

  • Read: Good Touch Bad Touch by Robert Kahn

Ifyou do not have the same book, you can read another related book. Some goodexamples are It’s MY Body by Lory Freeman and I said No! by Zack and KimberlyKing. These are all available on Amazon.

Ifyou have no books available, you can alternatively watch a video.

  • Watch: Safe Touch/ Unsafe Touch by Barbara Sinatra Center on YouTube.
  • Discuss: “So what are the private parts of our bodies?”Let your child come up with the answers. Give them cues by keeping thevideo/book open to show a related image. Let them point. Take their finger andmake them point on the image. “These parts that are covered by a bathing suit.”
  • Discuss: “Should anybody touch you on theprivate parts of the body?” Let them say No. Shake your head in the negative togive them a cue, if need be. “No one should touch the private parts of your body.”

“Whencan mommy or daddy touch us on the private parts of the body?” Show the relatedvisual. “In the bathroom, to help you clean up.” 

“Whencan a doctor or nurse touch us on the private parts of our body?” Show therelated visual. “If your private parts hurt.Ouchie! And mommy or daddy would bethere”

Discuss: “What should we do if someone touches the private parts of our body, or triesto touch the private parts of our body?”

This is where having a white board will come inhandy. There are 3 pointers that you can number and write on the board, with arelated visual that you can draw, or print and paste as you speak.

“We should:

  1. Say NO! Practise saying No loudly and clearly withthe child. Let them say it a few times.
  2. Run away
  3. Tell a grown-up friend, like…. Mommy, and…. Daddy,and….” Let the child identify any more adults that come to their mind. If theyname an inappropriate adult, redirect them back to their parents, grandparents,teacher or elder siblings. “What about Nani/Dada?”

“What should you do if someone makes you touch theprivate parts of their body, or tries to make you touch the private parts oftheir body?”

“That’sright. We should again tell our grown-up friends like mommy, daddy, Ms T, ….”

  • Practice the words they will use to tell: “Someone touched my privateparts!” or if that is difficult for them to say, practice speaking andpointing, “Someone touched me here!”
  • Activity: Ask your child to colour in theprivate parts of the boy and the girl in the image above. This will reinforcethe concept. You can remind them that they are colouring in the bathing suitsbecause they cover the private parts of the body that nobody can touch. You canask them to tell you the exceptions to this rule. This will be like a revisionof all that they have learned.
  • Guessing game activity: This activity can be donethe next day, using the image they coloured in the day before. You can also printout large images of a girl and a boy wearing swimsuits to refer to. Point todifferent parts of the body on the images, and ask them to guess if they areprivate or not.

“Weare going to play a guessing game! I am going to touch different parts of thebody on the boy and the girl, and you have to guess if they are private!”

“Whatabout the head?”

“Howabout between the legs?”

Whenthey say Yes, ask them why. Give them time to think through the answer.

“Yes,because it is covered by the…. bathing suit. Good job!”

Breaking the ice on sensitive topics with such activities makes it easier for both the parents and children to talk about them. I hope this article helps parents and caregivers who were struggling to initiate these discussions with their little ones. If you hit any roadblocks, or need answers to any questions or confusions, please feel free to write to me.

Thank you Rafia for sharing with us these great tips of how to introduce the concept of Safe Touch to our children. Rafia has begun to share her expertise over on Instagram, with parents and caregivers and aims to raise awareness about unconventional concepts such as Body Privacy, Consent, Safe/Unsafe touch etc, that are indispensable for a child’s development. Make sure to follow her on Instagram (@_theelephantintheroom) for regular content and inspiration regarding these topics.

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