How do we teach preschool children the difference between good touch and unsafe or uncomfortable touch?
Little children trust easily, too easily. They learn to hug their grandparents when they leave and how to shake hands with their parents friends when they meet them. We try to teach children good manners at an early age. It’s part of parenting, but so is teaching them how to protect their bodies against unsafe touch, whether it be from a babysitter, a cousin, or a pedophile who lives down the street.
Teach them about their bodies.
You can do this in the tub or when they see someone change a baby’s diaper.
“Let’s talk about how everyone’s body is different. God made Susan’s body different from your body or David’s body is not like your body. Each person’s body belongs to him or her and each person has the right to protect his or her body from unwanted touch. If you are a Christian, you can add, “God made each body a little bit different for a reason.”
This is a good time to teach modesty.
Draw a child in a swimsuit or put one on the child. “Do you see the parts of your body that are covered when you wear a swimsuit? When someone tries to touch you in the area of the swimsuit, they are not giving safe touch. The only time someone should need to touch your body in the area where a swimsuit touches is when a doctor or your parent needs to help you. I think you are old enough to know when someone needs to help you in that way.
Senses are the way we learn about the world around us.
“Do you know what the five senses are? We call it the five senses that help us know about our world. Can you tell me what they are?”
1. Seeing – “Tell me something you like to see with your eyes.” Wait for answer.
2. Hearing – “Tell me something you like to hear with your ears.” Wait for answer.
3. Smelling – “Tell me something you like to smell with your nose.” Wait for answer.
4. Tasting – “Tell me something you like to taste with your tongue.” Wait for answer.
5. Touching – “Tell me something you like to touch with your skin.” Wait for answer.
Discuss as needed.
“I like hugs from people I love. Which sense do I use when I give a hug? (Touch)
Do you like hugs? Who do you like to hug?” Wait for answers.
A hug is a loving touch. A loving touch makes us feel warm and comfortable. Sometimes there are touches that don’t make us feel comfortable. They might make us feel scared or hurt or confused. If someone touches you in a way you don’t like, you can tell them to stop. If they don’t, tell an adult you trust.
“Who does your body belong to? (the child) Do you have to let anyone touch you if you don’t feel comfortable? (no)
“Are there times when a grown-up might need to touch you so they can help?” (yes)
“Tell me some of those times.” (skinned knee, something in the eye)
“Are there times when an adult might need to touch your private parts?” (Yes, only when a parent or doctor needs to help you for a good reason.)
“If a person wants to touch your private parts without a good reason, do you have to let them?” (No) You are getting big now and you can think for yourself, can’t you?
If a person wants to touch your private parts or touch you in a way that makes you feel uncomfortable, what are some things you can do?”
1. Say “No”
2. Run away from them and scream if you need to.
3. Tell someone you trust. If they don’t believe you, tell someone else.
4. Remember, it is not your fault and you didn’t do anything wrong if that happens.
Children need to learn to think for themselves in an unsafe situation. Keep this conversational and let children answer.
“Do you remember yesterday I reminded you that you are getting big enough to think for yourself? I am going to ask you some questions that you will really have to think about.”
“We taught you to obey grown-ups, right?”
“What if your aunt told you to jump into the river, what would you do?”
“What would you do if your teacher told you to dive off the school building?”
“What if you are at the store and the store owner told you to steal a bag of potatoes? What would you do?”
“Most of the time when a grown-up tells you to do something, it is for your own good. But, you have to think. If it doesn’t seem right or makes you feel uncomfortable or scared, you don’t have to do it. It is your own body. If that happens, you go to a person you trust and ask them if you have to do it.
What kind of person might ask you to do something that is not for your own good? (Child describes what he or she thinks.)
Answer: 1. They could look and act nice.
2. The may try to trick you into thinking you can trust them.
3. They may be young or old.
4. They can be someone you know and care about or they could be a stranger, someone you don’t know.
5. They could be someone in your family. It could be anyone. You can’t tell by looking, only by feeling.
“Remember, your body belongs to you and no one has the right to touch it without your permission, unless it is your parent or doctor trying to help you. If someone does, what do you do?” (Say “no” and tell someone.)