Privacy and StrangersNovember 29, 2018
Teaching your child about privacy, body safety, and strangers is a gradual process that is best started early, when they are still in diapers. Revisit this topic often, and know that your pediatrician is a great resource for advice and discussion.
1. Use Accurate Language
Teach your child the correct names of his body parts, using anatomical terms. This is helpful for a few reasons – it equips your child with the language to ask questions and express concerns, and it removes the notion that certain body parts are shameful or can’t be talked about. Teach your child the “bathing suit rule”, which advises that the areas covered by someone’s bathing suit are private, and are not for others to see or touch.
2. No Secrets, Just Surprises
The notion of “secrets” can be confusing for children, because some secrets are “good” and some are “bad”. It might be helpful to refer to good secrets as “surprises”, such as a birthday present or a grandparent visiting. Teach your child that anything that makes them feel uncomfortable, nervous, embarrassed, or scared should never be kept a secret.
3. Help them Set Boundaries
Teach your child that it’s always okay to say “no” to any unwanted touches of any sort, even if someone tries to make them feel guilty, offers them a bribe, or asks to keep it a secret. Never force a hug or kiss, and respect your child’s boundaries in play, tickling, affection: listen to him when he says “no” or “stop”. Lastly, teach him that just because he agrees once to a hug or a touch, he doesn’t have to say “yes” every time.
4. No/Go/Tell Rule
Identify “trusted” adults in your child’s life he can turn to when he is scared or uncomfortable. Outside of friends and family, some options could be teachers, police officers, the school psychologist, his pediatrician, etc. Teach your child that if someone tries to touch him, look at him, or makes him feel uncomfortable or scared, he should 1) Say NO, 2) GO quickly away from the situation, and 3) TELL a trusted adult immediately.
For more information on talking to your child about personal safety, click here.