Talking with Your Child & Teaching Points
It is important to be open, honest and available to your child. Tell them you love and care for them. You want them to be safe and you want to be there for them if they have a problem. Personal safety information should be delivered in a straight-forward manner from a perspective of empowerment. Personal safety discussion should not be fear-based. Empowered children are careful - not fearful. It is vital that children have clear and accurate information so they know what to do if they are in an unsafe situation. Personal safety discussions should take place repeatedly to review the information, clarify and confirm they understand. Additionally, work with your child through role-play or modeling so children can practice their safety skills to demonstrate their abilities. Praise their work and efforts and share that you feel good about their knowledge of what to do if they were in an unsafe situation. ("Wow! You were great with the pretend situation. I feel that if an unsafe situation really happened, you would know what to do!")
Below are key teaching points to most effectively communicate with your child about their personal safety and well-being:
- Definition of instinct - the feeling we get inside that something is not right - and to trust our instincts by avoiding and/or getting away from people or situations that feel unsafe.
- Utilizing the buddy system in turning to peers for support. For instance, walking to and from school with a friend.
- The difference between tattling and telling (reporting) and when it is necessary to report unsafe situations to a trusted adult.
- Children are encouraged to identify several safe adults (at least three) they trust and could talk to if something was bothering them.
- Use the correct anatomical names for the private parts of the body. Using cutesy names is confusing and sends a message that the private parts of the body are somehow mysterious or naughty.
- A child has the right to say NO to ANYONE who wants to either inappropriately touch or be touched by the child.