Teaching a child to protect her body
child care

How to teach your child to protect his/her body?

What you need to sensitize about safeguarding the body

INTRODUCTION

Educating your child about their body is a very important conversation but most parents avoid. How often do your children have play dates? Do they play with friends and neighbors? Do they visit people’s houses with or without you? Do they go to school? if you answer Yes to this few questions, then it is advisable  you teach your child(ren), I mean educate them on how to protect their body because you can’t continue to be safeguarding them every minute of their day.

You won’t always be with your children, and it is safe to teach them about their body so they would be able to protect themselves. This conversation is as important to them as you educate them about their diet. Children are never too young to educate about the protection of their bodies.

As a parent, teacher or guardian, we should know that withholding this discussion from children can put them at a much greater risk of being abused.

This article is set to discuss the various methods and ideas on how to teach your child to protect his/her body. Parents and teachers can learn and implement this key steps to sensitize the children on best ways to protect themselves against unruly act that can deter their body.

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Why you should teach children to protect their body?

Most of us avoid telling our child about how to protect their bodies because we feel it makes us uncomfortable and might be scary for our children. But, avoiding to tell them is not the answer.

Research has shown that approximately 1 in 5 girls and 1 in 5 boys are sexually abused before the age of 18. Research has also shown that 60% of perpetrators of child sexual abuse are not strangers but are well known to the child, for instance, the babysitters, family members, neighbors, friends etc.

The best way to prevent all these from happening is to teach your child about safe and unsafe touch. Teach them how to protect their body.

How do I teach my child to care and protect his/her body?

Use appropriate words

Parents and caregivers should start teaching children about their bodies and how to protect them from young age. The first step in teaching your children is to use the right words for their private parts the same way you would do for their other body parts. There is nothing bad or shameful about using the right words for their private parts. It only helps in giving them knowledge about their body and be able to express themselves when the need arises to share their discomfort about a situation relating to their body.

When sensitizing kids about their bodies, remind them that some parts of their body are private like the parts covered by underwear or swimsuit. Tell them points blank to be careful not to strip themselves in public places. Be a living example so as not to give them mixed signs and make them wonder why you say something and do the opposite because kids are very observant and sensitive.

Don’t encourage secret

A secret is something hidden or concealed from people. As parents and caregivers, you should set a standard and make children know that secrets are not allowed. Reassure them that they won’t get in trouble or punished if they tell you anything and make them understand that you won’t be mad if they come to you for help. In that case, they will feel comfortable telling you anything.

Parents and caregivers should protect children and ensure that they feel safe at all times. When a child tells you something about his or her body or secrets, reassure them that you are not mad and they won’t get into trouble for telling. Children are often afraid of informing their parents out of fear or because of threats from the perpetrator.

Keep your emotions in check and don’t react while they are telling you to get the full story from them. If they see that you are angry while listening to them, the chances that they won’t tell you if something similar or worse happens is high because they don’t want you to be mad at them. Some perpetrators frequently threaten children not to tell their parents or anyone about the abuse.

Don’t encourage secrets in your household and tell them to reveal anyone that asks them to keep a secret right away. In other words, if your child is comfortable telling you things and feels safe around you, they would be able to tell you if anyone touches them in a wrong way.

sensitizing a child not to keep secret

Give them reasons to take ownership their body

Make your child aware of is ownership over his body. Emphasize that he has a right to his own body and his body belongs to no one else, not even you. This means that he has a right to decline any form of touch from anyone. Even if the touch is from someone he trusts or from a relative, it is important to make them aware that they won’t get in trouble for telling an adult “NO”.

If you want your child to take his rights serious and exercise his rights over his body, you will also have to respect his rights so you won’t give mixed signs. You should not force any physical affection on your child and ask for a kiss or hug if you want one. If he refuses or shies away, respect his decision and back off.

Ensure that this rule applies to everyone, even all your friends and relatives. When your friend or sister comes to visit, don’t command your child or say “Go and give your aunt a kiss”.  You should rather ask your child if he wants to kiss his aunt or hug if he refuses, don’t apologize, so he won’t think he did something wrong. It is his right.

Teach them about safe and unsafe act

There are different types of touches which include safe and unsafe touches. A safe touch can be defined as a touch from family or close friends given to show friendship and affection.

A safe touch can include a pat on the back, a handshake, a hug and a goodnight kiss from dad and mom.

An unsafe touch can be defined as a touch to a private part of the body that hurts or makes someone feel uncomfortable. An unsafe touch includes touches to private parts or areas close to the private parts that makes someone feel scared or uncomfortable.                   

Teach your child to differentiate between safe and unsafe touches. Make your child understand that no one is allowed to touch his private parts because it is not safe. Rather than using the word “bad”, it is advisable to make use of “unsafe” so he won’t feel guilty when someone touches him in his private parts.

When a child feels guilty, he might want to hide things out of fear of punishment from his parents. It is important to teach your children that they should never touch other people’s private parts and that no one should touch theirs either.

Parents seldom forget to mention the first part of this sentence, but it is very important because most sexual abuse often begins with the perpetrator asking the child to touch them or someone else.

No picture of private parts or nudity ‘Emphasis’

We live in an image-driven world where pedophiles who love to trade pictures and take pictures of naked children online. Perpetrators often begin by showing children pornographic pictures. It would be best if you teach your children that no one should ever take pictures of their private parts, and no one should show them pictures of other people’s private parts. 

Tell your child to reveal anyone that asks to take a picture of their private parts or shows them a picture of other people’s private parts. Tell your children that if they ever find themselves in an uncomfortable situation where someone wants to see or touch their body, they could come up with an excuse and say they need to use the bathroom.

Teach your child to say ‘No

Saying No is just simply not wanting to do something. Teach your child to say “No” or “Stop” whenever anyone asks him to do something that makes him feel uncomfortable, scared or funny. Tell your child not to be shy or afraid to say no to anyone who tries to touch them in a way they are not comfortable with.

Most children are scared of telling people “No” especially if the person is older or and adult because they feel it would be rude to them, which is quite normal. You can assure your child that he owns his body and can say no to anyone, but if he still feels nervous to say no, then he can come up with an excuse to use the bathroom. You can practice scenarios with them at home to prepare them if any situation comes up.

Be attentive to your child

Children need attention from their parents to grow, develop their self-esteem and a positive sense of identity. Paying attention to your child is easier than you think. It takes a lot of courage for a child to come and talk to the parents or caregivers. When they see that you don’t believe them or they are not heard properly, they lose confidence in you and will not inform you if anything happens. As a parent, caregiver or guardian, you need to be attentive towards your child and show them that you listen. Take proper actions to show that you take them seriously.

Teach your child how to listen to inner voice

The inner voice is a still, small voice within that exists to help guide and direct your life. It would help if you taught your child to listen to what their inner voice is telling them whenever they are in a situation that makes them feel uneasy.

The uneasy feeling which can be attributed anxiousness, embarrassed or afraid because you think that something is wrong or that there is danger in situation around a circumstance. Or take it this way, an uneasy feelings are those feelings that tell you that something is wrong; you don’t feel good about what someone is asking you to do and telling you to say NO or get help.

As a parent, you should also respect your child’s instincts and don’t make them feel they are wrong, so they won’t ignore their feelings and doubt their inner voice. Accept their perspective and respect their choices even if their choice doesn’t align with yours.

Sensitize importance, care and protection of the five sense organs

Emphasis should also be laid on the care and protection of the five sense organs as they literally forms the very point of first contact. Teach them the right thing as per this give them the right information required like

Care of the eyes in area of using good light to read, keeping distance from TV when watching, avoid looking into high intensified rays of light, avoid using glasses when you don’t have eyes problem etc.

Care of the nose in area of keeping distance from toxic when you not using protective gears, taking prescribe drug by physician when you have cold, wiping of nose with clean rag or toilet rolls after sneezing.

Care of the skin like avoiding staying under the sun when it is at peak, bath regularly with clean water, use moisturizing cream only when the need arise and do not bleach your skin.

Care of the tongue in area of avoid eating too hot foods, watching of the mouth daily before and after food where applicable, not speaking guile with our tongue, avoiding eating of too much salt and wiping of dirty from it with right mouth watch whenever you see it too dirty.

Sensitize on the care and protection of the bone

Avoid carrying load heavier than your strength, don’t play rough games that can subject your bone to break or dislocate, eat good food that can strengthen your bone, exercise often and sleep well.        

All rules apply to everyone

This is an important point to discuss with your children. Your children should understand that all the rules apply to everyone they know, and it doesn’t matter if the person is a friend, an adult, a relative, neighbor, babysitter, or teachers. Make it clear to them that no one should touch them, and no one is exempted from this rule apart from mommy and daddy when they need to make them clean or if they need cream.

This article has discussed the various methods and ideas on what to teach and how to teach your child to protect their body successfully. As a parent or guardian, our responsibility is to empower children with the right knowledge and tools to prevent and protect themselves.

I hope you find it useful? Go ahead and share it with other parents. Sure you have learnt one thing or the other and desire to compliment with your opinion; kindly use our comment box below. And if you wish to get more of DflourishingKids updates, feel free to use the follow us button at bottom left or you can simply use our subscriber form. Thanks for reading.

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