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Talking About Touching
Tips for Parents
Touch is important to children. Touch communicates love, comfort, nurturing and acceptance. It is important for children to know that most touches are safe and caring. It is also important for children to know that some touches are not okay. Children need to know what they can do if they get a touch that does not feel safe or makes them feel bad or confused.
- Think about how you want to state touching rules based on your child’s age development and your own family/cultural values. The following rule could be stated many different ways.
- No one should touch your private body parts (penis, vagina, butt/bottom, and breasts) except to keep you clean and healthy. If some one does, say “No” get away, and tell a grown-up. Tell children that’s its not okay for someone to ask them to touch that persons private body parts.
- Don’t keep secrets about touching. Secrecy allows the abuse to continue. Let your child know that it is always important to tell you even if the person touching them says not to. It is never ok for anyone to force, trick or bribe anyone into sexual touch.
- Teach children that they can say “no” if they feel scared, confused or unsure. This will help them to establish healthy boundaries and to be clear and assertive.
- Talk about touching in the context of safety. Talk about family rules about touching the same way you talk about rules about fire (i.e.: don’t play with matches) or crossing the street (i.e.: Look both ways). Children understand the importance of rules.
- Talk about some examples when it would be ok for an adult to touch a child’s private body parts: to keep a child clean and healthy. Examples include: doctor visits, bathing younger children, toileting etc.)
- Teach your child the names of their private body parts (penis, vagina, butt/bottom, and breasts).
Tips for Talking
- Think about good times to discuss this. Choose a time that you have alone with your child, when you are both comfortable. Talks about touching should be ongoing. This should not be a one-time conversation.
- Initiate this conversation; don’t wait for your child to ask.
- Take advantage of “natural opportunities to teach.” Children have normal curiosity about bodies and reproduction and what they hear on the news or television. You can include talking about touching safety when you answer these questions.
- Encourage your child to ask if he or she has any question or concerns about touching.
- You may not always be available for your child to talk to about questions or concerns. Ask he or she to identify other people to talk to if these question or concerns should come up. Examples include other relatives, teachers, school counselors, caregivers, etc.
- Be approachable; have your child practice saying, “No, stop that now.” Play “what if…” games.
Haga clic aquí para ver el Talk About Touching (Hablando Sobre las Formas de Tocar) vídeo en español