Children need and thrive on loving, caring touches from family members and well intentioned individuals in their lives but they can also be ‘tricked’ by individuals who take advantage of that need and innocence. http://www.brighthorizons.com/family-resources/e-family-news/2012-caring-touch-is-critical-to-thriving/
So one of the best safety rules we can teach children, from a very young age, is “they are the BOSS of their bodies” and they can “say NO or say YES” to the way other people TOUCH their bodies. To help them understand what that means, talk about different kinds of touches and how certain touches might “feel” to them. Teach them there are “hurtful touches” (pinching, biting, kicking, scratching, etc.), “fun touches” (hugging, tickling, kissing, holding hands, etc.) and lastly, “I need to talk to someone touches” (touches that are confusing, disrespectful or unwanted).
Explain hurtful touches are not acceptable for anyone and it’s important they learn ways to say NO –“No, Stop that; No, I don’t like that; No, you can’t do that, etc.” Point out, most people (kids & grownups) like “fun touches” but sometimes, if they’re not in the mood or don’t “feel comfortable” (yucky, weird, or creepy) with another person’s hugging, tickling, kisses, etc., it’s still OK to say “NO, stop that or No, I don’t like that, etc.” If someone doesn’t respect they are the ‘boss’ of their body and won’t stop touching them (a hurtful or fun touch) that becomes an “I need to talk to someone touch.” Emphasize they can always talk to you or another trusted adult about how and why they’re feeling about another person’s touches. Additionally, discuss what to do if they like/love a certain person but that person continues to touch them in ways they don’t like…tell them again, it’s always OK to talk about it (with you or another trusted adult) and get help when necessary!
Be sure you allow your child to voice his/her touching boundaries with EVERYONE. If your child has never met a distant relative or old family friend and is uncomfortable hugging or kissing, suggest other ways of greeting them such as shaking hands, a fist pump, high-five or a simple wave. You may have to do some explaining but it’s better to support and respect your child’s boundaries than worry about offending another adult, teen or child. Lastly, remind your child everyone is the boss of their own body and respectful touching is a two-way street, which means they need to respect others when they don’t want to be touched 🙂
In conclusion, children learn many rules for their safety. Most rules request they NOT doing something but for body safety they need to learn they can DO something – “Say No or say YES” to help deter unwanted, disrespectful or inappropriate touching!
Until next time,
With love and respect for all children,