Speak to children about personal safety in simple language and repeat the same rules often. Discuss body safety issues in the context of general safety skill-building.
Allow appropriate assertiveness; appreciate the value of your child saying “no”:
- Children who are able to appropriately assert themselves are at lower risk of becoming victimized.
- The best place for them to practice saying no is with someone they trust.
All feelings are okay. Feelings are different than behaviors.
- Give children words to express feelings (happy, sad, angry, excited, worried, scared, frustrated, safe, etc.)
- Reflect children’s feelings “You feel mad when you can’t play outside.”
- Adhere to rules and expectations. Just because you are allowing children to express their feelings doesn’t mean they can do whatever they want.
- Teach children that the parts of their bodies covered by underwear or bathing suits are private.
- Talk to them about “ok,” “not okay” and “confusing” touches, and how to deal with each.
- Teach children the correct name for their body parts (penis, vagina). Encourage children to tell someone they trust if anyone tries to touch their private parts.
- Teach children never to keep secrets that make them feel uncomfortable or bad.
- Take advantage of opportunities to strengthen your communication (and relationship) with your child — practice active listening, reflect feelings, discipline behaviors (not feelings), answer questions with language the child will understand, and only answer what was asked.
- Encourage children to let you know what they like and what they don’t like. Doing so will:
- Let them know that you can tolerate differences.
- Increase the likelihood that your child will talk to you when things feel hard or if they have problems.
- Provide supervision.