As a parent, you will always do whatever needs to be done so as to keep your children safe from danger and hurt. However, like all the other parents, you always end up worried whenever you think about your child being exposed to the terrifying danger of sexual abuse, considering you can’t always know from where and when it can come.
Even so, sitting down a toddler and explaining to them what sex is, let alone sexual abuse, isn’t viable no matter what angle you decide to look at it, and it you might only end up confusing and scaring them.
How do you, therefore, talk to your child about sexual abuse and when do you even start? We look at some helpful tips that can guide you on this
- Using the correct words for all body parts
When teaching your child about parts of their body like the head, shoulders, knees and toes, children clinical psychologist Elizabeth Seeley-Wait says that you should add in their vagina, penis and bottom.
A child who talks about their privates parts openly are more likely to tell if something happens to them.
A potential sexual predator is also likely to back off if the child knows and confidently mentions their private parts by name, meaning they have been talking to an adult (parent or guardian) about those things and, therefore, is more likely to share whatever happens to them with the parent or guardian.
- Not forcing hugs and kisses
Other than teaching your children the autonomy of their private parts, sex educator Justine Kiely-Scott says parents should not force their kids to act in ways they are not comfortable such as making them give someone a hug or kiss.
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Well, they don’t have to be rude or ignore people but they can acknowledge someone in a polite way which doesn’t have to involve unwanted touch.
This way, the child gets to learn to trust their gut instincts. Teaching your child to trust their instinct entails assisting them know what they are feeling.
- Asking for consent around your child’s body
It is important to teach your child how to be in control of what happens to their body. A good way to go about it is to get in the habit of asking them before you touch their private parts. This way they can know that they can say “no” to an adult trying to touch their private parts.
As a parent, you also need to let them know that only approved adults can help them clean their private parts. You may want to mention that a doctor may need to see their private parts during a checkup and even so you will be in the room. The idea is for the child to be able to know what normal helpful behavior is so that they can easily tell the difference when something is wrong.
- Not shutting down awkward conversations
Talking about private body parts, feelings and what you’d term inappropriate behaviour can be somewhat embarrassing especially if you never got to talk about such growing up. As a parent, you need to have the conversation with your child even if it goes against what you grew up knowing.
Try not to shut your toddler asking something embarrassing in public. You can answer them quietly or assure them that you’ll get back to them later, and ensure you do. This way you make them know that they can always come to you to talk about stuff.
Also, you don’t need to wait for them to come to you with their concerns. You should have little conversations from time to time to check in with them and give them an opportunity to open up about something that has been troubling them.
Remember, whenever you notice changes in your kid’s behavior, be it their sleeping habit, eating or toilet routine, you should always try to find out if there is something bothering them as these changes can always mean something.