The moment we leave our kid’s side, we are worried.
We are worried all the time about what this world is going to do to them. For being prepared for the world, we need to start preparing them from now. They should know what to do if they feel something is wrong. They should be prepared for the situation.
But to be prepared, first we need to identify the situation. To identify the situation we as parents are responsible for teaching them the wrong and the right, the appropriate and the in appropriate, the good and the bad.
The Good Touch and the Bad Touch!!
What is Touch?
Touch is an act of touching someone or something.
Most of the kids are familiar with the meaning of touch by the time they turn 2-3 years of age.
But what they still do not understand is what is a good touch and what is a bad touch?
It is crucial to understand why is it important to tell them about the good touch and the bad touch. Due to the rising sexual abuse among children, no matter it is a girl or a boy, it has become the parents duty to tell them what exactly is a bad touch, how they can identify it and when and how do they need to react to it.
What is a good touch?
A good touch is a safe touch.
It is a touch that makes you feel pleasant and good. It makes the child or anyone feel loved, happy and get a sense of security.
Examples of Good Touch
- Mother or father hugging the child
- A grandparent kissing the child
- Friends holding hands
- Giving a high five to a friend
- A teacher giving a pat on your head when you do something good
- A doctor examining you in front of your parents
What is a bad touch?
A bad touch is an unsafe touch.
It is a touch that makes you feel uncomfortable and unpleasant. You want the other person to stop right away.
Examples of Bad Touch
- When someone touches your chest, buttocks or in between the legs (private parts)
- When someone asks you to touch their chest, buttocks or private parts
- When someone tries to kiss you forcefully on the mouth
- When someone hits, spanks or pushes you
- If someone touches you and asks you to keep a secret
- When someone touches you even after you said “NO”
How to educate the child on the good touch and the bad touch?
The child should know from an early age what is a good touch and what is a bad touch. Before sending the child to the kindergarten the child should have the knowledge, and should know what to do when he or she doesn’t feel good or pleasant about someone touching them.
So, here is what we need to do to help our children understand.
1. Start early and keep it simple
Do not make it a big deal. Start when the child is approximately 2 years old and is able to understand few things. It is not necessary that the child should understand everything in the first time.
The bath time is the best time to explain it to your child. I started explaining what a bad touch is to my daughter in a very simple way without making it a big deal. We started when she was two. She took it as a part of normal conversation. It was a routine thing for us. And at the age of three if she doesn’t want anyone to touch her (even though with good intentions and in our presence) she just says “NO” very firmly.
So, teaching about appropriate touching should not be scary or difficult. It should be a comfortable conversation.
2. Let the child be the owner of his or her own body
Teach your child to be the “Boss of their own body.”
Let your child take the charge of their own body. Tell them that if they do not want to get hugs and kisses even from any family member it is completely okay. Tell them to say “No” whenever they feel uncomfortable when someone is touching them. Also tell them not to touch their siblings or friends when they ask or say “no” and don’t want to be touched.
They should know that everyone has the right to their own bodies and should never be forced to do something that they are not willing to do.
3. Teach the child about the private parts
Never hesitate to tell your child what the private parts are, as these are the parts most of the times involved in bad touch.
You can use the SWIMSUIT RULE to help them understand. All the body parts that are covered in a swim suit are the private parts and no one can touch your private parts without your permission.
- Chest: The chest is the part covered by a swim suit and a child should know that they should never allow anyone to touch them there.
- Buttocks: The buttocks are covered by the swim suit and no one other that the parents can touch you there and that too only while cleaning.
- In between the legs: Again this area is covered by the swim suit and no one except a parent can touch you there only to clean.
The child should be very clear that these places are owned only by the child and no one else. Only the parents or the doctor under the supervision of a parent is allowed to touch there. If anyone else touches these places the child should immediately go and tell an adult that they trust.
Though the private parts are the most vulnerable places, but the child should be taught that any touch anywhere in the body if felt uncomfortable or uneasy should be immediately denied and should be told to an adult the child trusts. A sexual abuser most of the times never touches the private parts directly. They first make a repo with the child, gains the trust and then starts the abuse, which then becomes very confusing for the child. So, they should be taught to stop it early.
4. Never force affections
I have never forced my child to hug or kiss someone if she is not willing to. Never force affections. Let the child decide what makes him or her comfortable. Forcing a child will make them confused about the good and the bad touch. They will find it difficult to distinguish when it comes to deciding if they felt uncomfortable or they are not allowed to feel uncomfortable as they are suppose to do this. So, never force a child to hug anyone or get a hug from someone they don’t feel comfortable with.
5. Help them to learn how to say NO
Teach them to say “No”. “No” is a very powerful word, and ideally a person should never touch you once you said “No”. Tell them to say “NO” very firmly and loudly so that the person gets conscious of the surrounding and ask them to scream and run away to a safe place like to a parent or a teacher, and should never be alone in future with that person.
6. Teach them what a good touch is
They should be able to distinguish between a good touch and a bad touch, so that there is no confusion and the child can differentiate easily.
Tell them that a doctor touching them even when sometimes they feel uncomfortable in the presence of the parents is required and is not a bad touch.
Tell them a gentle touch on their thigh by their teacher can be a bad touch if they feel uncomfortable with that. Tell them to trust their instincts and immediately talk to you about it so that you can help them get a clarity as you are an adult.
7. Tell them not to accept anything from a stranger or go with any stranger ever
They should understand that they should not take anything from a stranger, even if it is their favorite ice cream or chocolate. Tell them that they should not go anywhere with any stranger even if they say you have sent them to pick them up. Try to always be on time whenever you have to pick the child from school, classes, a birthday party or any place that the child has been to.
Create a special bond with your child since the beginning so that the child trusts you and tells you everything in detail.
8. Tell them not to hide anything from you especially when told to do so
When someone has a bad intention he or she will scare the child and tell them not to report it to anyone. They might scare the child in different ways by telling that they might harm them or their family or friends. Tell the child that, this is when they should immediately report it to an adult they trust and should not hide it at all.
Assure the child that you trust them and not the other person. Tell them that they did not do anything wrong. The child should be able to trust you to tell you everything. So, the bonding is important, and it starts right at birth.
9. Read books or show them videos
There are really good books available which you can read with your child and explain things to them. Also YouTube has some amazing videos available in almost all the languages and you can shown the videos to your child, in whichever language he or she is most comfortable in.
Here are few video links that might help:
- Komal (made by a NGO)
- A very simple and detailed video on good touch bad touch by a hindi TV series
- Safe touch song
- Good touch bad touch well explained in Satyamev Jayte
- A Malayalam Short film on child abuse awareness
Here are few links for the books that might help:
- I said “NO” A kid to kid guide to keeping private parts private
- It’s my body: A book to teach young children how to resist uncomfortable touch
- It’s my body: A book about body privacy
- My body! What I say goes!
10. Make them believe that it was not their mistake
Most of the times the predator makes the child believe that somehow it was the child’s mistake, and the innocent child believes it. Make them understand that it is not their mistake at all and they are not at fault at whatever has happened. This will again help in building trust and giving confidence to the child.
My Safe Circle
A safe circle is an imaginary circle created for the child which will include all those people the child can trust.
The child can ask or tell anything to the people in the safe circle. For e.g. the people in a child’s safe circle can be the parents and the grandparents. You can help your child to decide who he or she would trust the most and would want to include in the safe circle.
What should a parent be aware of?
Even after teaching your child about good touch and bad touch, it is still a parents responsibility to take care of certain things,
- Ask the child about his or her day, and if you feel something is wrong, address it immediately
- Keep a notice on the adults your child is spending time with, whether the person is trying to touch the child deliberately
- Does your child feel uncomfortably especially around someone in particular
- Is someone trying to give your child gifts routinely and without there being an occasion.
Remember, in most of the cases the person that abuses the child is either a close friend or relative. So, trust your child when the child comes to you and tells you that a specific aunty or uncle behaved in a weird manner with them, and try not to leave the child alone with that particular person ever.
We should try and make sure that our children are trained in self defense as soon as we can, as this will help in gaining some confidence and knowledge about how to deal with the adult who can sometimes force them, and are much bigger and heavier than them. The self defense will teach them how to tackle such situations.
Sexual abuse is as common among boys as it is among girls. So if a boy child comes to the parents and complains of a bad touch, it should be taken seriously and not ignored.
Early warning signs the kid should know?
The body itself responds to unpleasant and stressful situations, and the child should be taught to identify it.
- Sweaty palms or forehead
- Feeling of sickness in the stomach
- Shaky legs
- Feels like crying or running away
So, once explained to the child, the child will start to identify the responses from the body and react in the same way.
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