The first step in teaching children about Body Safety is the foundational message of “YOUR BODY BELONGS TO YOU.” We can start using those words and modeling that behavior at any stage of a child’s development…it’s never too early and it’s never too late.
We can use the infant years as the time to introduce this message/philosophy. For example, when you change your baby’s diaper you can say, “I’m going to wipe your penis right now, to get it clean.” Or, “Is it okay if I wipe your penis now to get it clean?” He/she/they won’t understand your words or your deeds, but they will eventually recognize a pattern which will become a family habit…a way of doing things.
It’s also never too late to introduce the message to your children…whether they are toddler, school-age or high school. If your child is young enough, you can just start introducing this message and modeling the behavior without any explanation. If your child is middle school or older, try saying something, “I read something today that I really like and I want to share it with you…”
How do you reinforce this Body Safety message on an ongoing basis?
- Don’t make your children hug and kiss anyone they don’t want to. Anyone.
- If your child is upset, ask him/her/them how they would like to be consoled. Ask if they would like you to hug them. *Sidenote: I understand that this might sound or feel awkward, but I promise you it’s not. My daughter doesn’t like hugs and I’m a BIG hugger! When she is sad or upset, I actually ask her if she wants me to hug her. Sometimes she tells me ‘yes’ and sometimes she tells me ‘no.’ It defeats the purpose if I’m causing anxiety for her when I’m trying to console her.
- If you are a coach, ask your athlete if it is okay to spot them a certain way or touch them a certain way to adjust a movement.
So, what are you waiting for? You can start today!
Want more tips to prevent child sexual abuse in your family or organization? Email me at email@example.com to schedule a call or follow me on Instagram @tobystarkpreention.