4 Ways to Teach Your Child About “Safe” and “Unsafe” Touch

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Teaching your child about stranger danger may not be enough in today’s day and age. With the cases of child abuse steadily rising, it is important that your child knows the difference between good touch and bad touch. And although most children as young as 4 years old understand the concept of unsafe and safe touch, getting into details without a plan can make things go sideways. If you are not clear in your messaging, your child might end up with more questions than answers and the last thing any parent would want is to leave their kid feeling confused about this topic. But you must make the effort to warn your child against this danger so that they can inform you before anything goes out of hand. So, here’s how to ensure that the talk is a success.

1. Talk To Your Child In A Quiet Place Away From Distractions

Talk To Your Child In A Quiet Place Away From Distractions

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It’s not just the “what” that matters but the “where”. What you talk about will have no effect on your child if they are in an environment where they are easily distracted and not motivated to listen to you. Like any other serious conversation, you have to set the tone and mood before you actually begin the conversation. Once you have your child in a quiet place, make sure they are comfortable by holding their hand or sitting next to each other.

Then you can slowly start to explain that they shouldn’t touch anyone else’s private parts. Tell them that it is wrong for someone else to touch their own private parts around them or to ask to touch their private parts. Let them know that it is not okay for others to ask your child to take off their clothes in front of them or show them images of people without clothes on.

2. Ask Your Child To Compare Safe And Unsafe Touch

Ask Your Child To Compare Safe And Unsafe Touch

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One way to ensure that your child has understood the concept of safe and unsafe touch is to ask them to explain it to you after you tell them about it. This way if they have any doubts or questions, or if they hesitate while explaining the concepts to you, you can go over them again until they get it. Another way for your child to recognize or get a sense of the difference between safe and unsafe touch is to role play. Give them different scenarios and ask them what they would do in that instance or if the person’s actions were right or wrong. For example, how is a hug from someone they trust different from another person squeezing their leg or hugging them?

You want them to recognize that an unsafe touch has happened when your child feels nervous or scared when someone is going to touch them or if a touch is making them uncomfortable. If someone is threatening to hurt them if they talk about the situation or asks them not to tell anyone. Or if a person touches a place in their body where they don’t want to be touched. All these are unsafe touches.

3. Explain That Even A Safe Touch Can Hurt At Times

Explain That Even A Safe Touch Can Hurt At Times

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Many parents tell their kids that an unsafe touch might often hurt, and although it is true, you must also explain that sometimes safe touches cause pain too. For example, your child might feel pain when they are examined by a doctor. But this is completely normal. So, before they go in for the appointment, explain this to your child. Tell them that the doctor might have to remove a splinter which might hurt or give them an injection which can be painful. Lay stress on the fact that they are doing this as a professional in order to restore your child’s health.

Keep them informed that the doctor might have to see or touch their private parts in order to complete their checkup and that it is a normal procedure. Of course you can comfort them by letting them know that you will be right next to them, ensuring that everything is okay.

4. Use A Bikini Or Swimsuit To Explain Private Parts

Use A Bikini Or Swimsuit To Explain Private Parts

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It can be hard to explain the concept of private parts and intercourse to children. These topics are sensitive and should be discussed in age appropriate ways. But it should be discussed. Shying away from these topics altogether is what offenders take advantage of. But how to ease your clueless little kids into the conversation? Well, kids are smarter than we give them credit for. Put them in a bikini to explain that the parts that it covers are their private parts. And then put them in a swimsuit to indicate the areas that they shouldn’t be touched. If they are touched in any of these places, it is considered as an unsafe touch, save for a few exceptions as we’ve seen in the previous point.

Having this conversation may be difficult and awkward but it is important. Make sure that your child listens intently and answer all of their questions. We hope the conversation goes well.

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Kezia John

Kezia holds a deep interest in writing about women adapting to motherhood and childcare. She writes on several topics that help women navigate the joys and responsibilities of being a new mom and celebrate every stage of their baby's development. When she is not writing for MomJunction, she sings in a classical Western choir and reads endlessly.