It's basically impossible today to watch the news or look through social media without coming across some report of rape, molestation or any sexual assault. Many of these stories are about children too small to even remember the names of all their body parts, let alone understand what sexual assault means. To raise a child in a world full these molesters, paedophiles, rapists etc. is not only scary but challenging too, as many of these monsters lurk around among us wearing masks of familiar faces.
Let’s face it. You cannot walk around your kid all the time to keep an eye on anyone who comes close to him and also there is no way you can be 100% aware of the intentions of each and every person who your kid may come across. That is why no matter however safe your kid may seem to be, it is highly important that you prepare your kid for the prevention of any such incident.
Even if it might be the most embarrassing episode of your life, you essentially need to give your child a lesson on sex education and sexual health. Have an open and honest conversation with them and let them understand the concept of consent and value a person’s boundaries to grow into sensible adults who have healthy social interactions with others. This is important to teach about consent for not only safeguarding your own child from potential sexual predators but also to prevent them from developing a mentality of a predator themselves.
Some of the most simple and key ways of introducing consent to children involve practising it with them. Here are few ways you can teach your kids about consent.
We learn with ease from practical experience rather than lectures or preaching. The same goes for kids, especially as they tend to lose focus way quickly. Therefore instead of giving them long lectures and advises, incorporate few changes in your daily life. Ask your kids for permission before hugging or kissing them or hold them or express any sort of affection or concern in some other form. They must be taught that they are possess the authority to their own bodies and that they can say no to somebody communicating in ways that may make them uncomfortable.
Requesting your kid’s consent to touch them or come into their own space can be very basic. Ask questions such as “Can I hold your hand?”, “Can I get a kiss on my cheek?” or “Will you please give me a hug?” and if they say ‘no’, don’t sulk or show disappointment instead say “Okay”. This is to that saying no to something they don’t like or want is completely fine and that you respect their space. It is also important to teach them to ask permission as well as to respect when a person says ‘no’.
Help them recognise “safe” and “unsafe” touches:
Parents generally abstain from talking about sexual abuse and touches with children because it will be awkward and scary for them. But with everything that is happening around us it is only logical to teach them to differentiate a safe touch from a unsafe own. Sometimes unsafe touches do not seem uncomfortable at the early stages, especially when it comes from someone the kid knows. Therefore you need to teach them about what kind of touch or touches in which parts are not acceptable to give them an idea.
Encourage them to speak up:
Kids often don’t speak up about things that make them uncomfortable until they feel free with that person. Make your kids comfortable enough with you, so that they can come and talk to you anytime about anything or anyone that is bothering them. Sexual abusers generally tell the kids to keep their act a secret from everyone by scaring them.
The more secrets the child keeps, the more encouraged the abuser gets. Therefore, encourage your kids to speak up about anything uncomfortable they come across.
The birds-and-bees talk:
Sexual Education is extremely important for the kids in their teenage. Their body goes through rapid changes along with which because of fluctuating hormones their emotions keep shuffling. They become rebellious and start believing that they are adult enough to handle everything on their own. As they start exploring their new physical changes, they become excited about seeking attention of the opposite sex. The sexual abusers take advantage of such vulnerability of the teenagers.
It’s better to teach them about the changes they are going through and that it is completely normal to have overwhelming feelings or confusions, in fact is only a part of the growing up process. But also, it is very important to make them aware of predators and their intentions. Let your child know that you believe in them and they don’t have any need to hide anything from you.
Teach your boys to be a real man:
A real man never humiliates or takes advantage or does anything to hurt women or anyone for that matter, but instead empowers them. Your boy needs to learn to develop a healthy mentality and understand about his masculinity to become the ideal gentleman in future. Teach him that any forceful act on someone without their consent is absolutely wrong and unacceptable. Also, encourage him to respect others’ private space and value their decision.
It is imperative for parents to have these discussions with kids when they’re young so that they not only understand the value of consent but also practice these lessons through adolescence and adulthood. By teaching children to comprehend that they are in control of their bodies and by showing that we respect their feelings while also encouraging them to do so with others, we can help them safeguard themselves from unfortunate and dangerous interactions as well as to develop healthier interpersonal relationships in the future.
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