How to Educate our Kids about Strangers & Inappropriate Touch - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 04-12-2002, 11:40 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My ds is 5 1/2 yo and we have talked alot over the years about strangers. But, last night we talked for the first time about strangers and inappropriate touching of his "privates". How do you talk w/your kids about this time of touch and how not to scare them. I think I did last night and I didn't mean to, but I wanted to get the seriousness of this across to him.

Thanks for your help!

Warmly~

Lisa

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#2 of 14 Old 04-12-2002, 11:49 PM
 
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I understand that a lot of molesters use fear and threats to keep a kid from telling - "if you tell, I'll kill you/your sibling/your mom", whatever. I make a point of telling my dd that there is no way that fulfilling a threat like that would happen by telling me. (I explain it much better to her, but I'm tired right now)

Don't forget, it's not usually strangers that hurt kids. It's not just "if a stranger does this", it's "if anyone does this". Dd knows that only the doctor can touch her privates, and only if we think there's a problem, and only if I'm there too. She's fine with that and doesn't seem to dwell on the what ifs.

Does that help?
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#3 of 14 Old 04-12-2002, 11:50 PM
 
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Anything that would be covered by your bathing suit is just for you is a simple way to start.
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#4 of 14 Old 04-13-2002, 12:10 AM
 
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Vanna's Mom, our social worker (we foster) had a chat with dd and used that analogy (which is one I like, btw), and dd wanted to know what was the big deal with shoulders being touched!!!
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#5 of 14 Old 04-13-2002, 03:40 AM
 
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My 4-year-old knows the names of all the parts of her body. She know the difference between vulva, clitoris, labia, etc. I tell her that only she can play with, touch these parts and that mommy can't, daddy can't grandma can't her teacher can't my brother can't the neighbor can't etc etc. I include names of people I know because as Irishmommy said, it is usually not strangers that molest children.

And, I say it very matter-of-factly, and regularly and relatively often (I am a foster parent so I have seen too much of this to pretend it isn't going to happen to anybody I love). I don't have this whispered conversation in a scared tone of voice only once ever other year. I say it positively and empoweringly: THIS IS YOUR BODY, ONLY YOU HAVE A RIGHT TO IT. Mommy and daddy can wipe your anus (sorry you gals and guys who aren't used to saying these words-it was hard on me at first too) and maybe a medical doctor will one day need to put something up your vagina, but other than those types of situations, nobody can touch you there.

There are also TONS of good books directed especially at VERY young children that you can check out at your library. They have helped me immensely in how to address the situation.

Good luck.
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#6 of 14 Old 04-13-2002, 09:32 AM
 
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Great book about this (and more) Protecting the Gift. Can't remember the author's last name, but his first name is Gavin. I read about it here on the boards. As I recall, he says the swimsuit thing does not go far enough, kids need to know that no one should ask them to touch the other person in this area too.

Main message of the book is to trust your instincts. If something seems creepy, it probably is. Don't be afraid to act on something if you have a feeling about it, even if there is "no good reason."
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#7 of 14 Old 04-13-2002, 11:46 AM
 
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I have always told Saige ever since she was old enough to talk that her body is HERS and that her private parts (She knows where and what they are) are HERS and no one is allowed to touch them or see them.It freaks me out though,and scares me to think of all the threats out there to our kids.I 100% agree that if anything EVER creeps you out-THERE IS A REASON.
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#8 of 14 Old 04-13-2002, 12:25 PM
 
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Ruth and Saige--how and when did you teach y our dds about what and where their privates are (Ithink its so wonderful and empowering for them that you did, want to start thinking about how to empower my dd in this way, although she's just 8 months now). I hope this isn't too personal a thing to ask--I'd really benefit a lot from an open discussion on this!
I definitely absorbed a feeling of shame and secrecy about my female body parts as a child, never eveb saw my mom naked let alone learned any of the anatomical words, which made me more vulnerable, I see now, to potential abusers...Its not that my mom or family did anything bad to make me feel this way, they just didn't do anything about it, period...I think I learned about those parts in a book in junior high, too late to claim them in a positive way. Did you use a book?
I think I read an essay once where this awesome groovy mom describes sitting on the floor with her daughter (age...4?) and pointing out the different parts on her own body, and it sounded very natural and educational...what do you mamas think of this: a great idea, or overkill? Thanks. Whew, is this ever new territory for me! But I just really want to do right by dd, and knowledge is power...
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#9 of 14 Old 04-13-2002, 03:13 PM
 
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How do you talk w/your kids about this time of touch and how not to scare them. I think I did last night and I didn't mean to, but I wanted to get the seriousness of this across to him.
We talked about it with our 2 older boys (8 & almost 6). My thought (and I guess what I've heard) is that no one should touch you around your genitals but also if you feel uncomfortable around someone let mommy or daddy know. I think I read somewhere (and it might have been the Gavin deBecker book) that if your child feels uncomfortable around a person, their instinct is probably right. I think it went on to say something about making a child kiss a relative that he/she has never seen and the kid doesn't want to. You should respect that fear in the your child because it's right even though your relative may not agree.
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#10 of 14 Old 04-13-2002, 11:07 PM
 
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Wildflower, I wish I was as comfortable with myself as that groovy mom sitting on the floor with her daughter. No, we have learned the body parts over the years through books we have read (she LOVES anatomy books) together. Also, mommy it itches right here. Oh, your vulva itches, let's see or maybe we didn't rinse welll enough let's jump back in the bath tub.

Most of the books that are directed at children are not that keen on using the right names for the parts so you kinda have to do it yourself. But again, it is not a "lesson" it is just a daily part of life, like did you brush your teeth?

When did I start? When she was 3 months old. Teenage pregnancy is rampant in my culture so when I went to my hometown my best friend called me in tears to tell me that her teenage daughter (that she had when SHE was a teenager) was pregnant. She asked if she could come over (to cry on my shoulder). So while I was waiting for her I explained to my 3 month old out loud everything about teenage pregnancy and how to avoid it and sex and reproduction and names of body parts and how to avoid being a victim of child abuse. Anything I could think of. I just rambled. Wow, it felt wierd. But, I figured I better get used to is with a 3 month old so I can feel comfortable with it as she got older. And it worked. She now thinks it is funny that her best friend calls his penis WEE WEE. When she asked him to marry her and he got nervous and said he had to ask him mother, she said, that is not right. Mommy, doesn't each person decide who, or if, they will marry without asking their mommy?

My mom raised us with a very negative view of our bodies. When I met my dh at the age of 22, I was still taking a shower with my underwear on! I remember being a teenageer and bathing 3 or 4 times a day when I was menstruating because I thought I was dirty. My mom is slowly and hesistatingly getting used to the fact that my daughter DOES NOT wear clothes at home or in the car or in my office.

3boys4us, oh yeah, never force a child to kiss/hug anybody. That is sending her the message that adults get to say what to do to her.
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#11 of 14 Old 04-13-2002, 11:15 PM
 
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we struggle with this question because i see the need for this type of education, but i am uncomfortable presenting it as 'no one should touch u in this way' because someday i hope someone does touch them and that they enjoy it without guilt! i am of course talking about wanting my children, as adults, to enjoy a healthy sex life. the problem is of course teaching them that NO ONE should be touching them until then. i can see how emphasizing that their body belongs to them can help with this. its just a fine line between helping them protect themselves from abusers and making them feel their genitals are somehow untouchable!
another point on this topic: when children have one primary caregiver and not a series of daycare workers in their diaper, dont we lay the foundation without saying a word for what is appropriate for touch? after all, they learn a lot about the culture they grow up in from observing the world around them. if they know that no one but mommy or daddy cleans their genitals, arent they seeing that genitals are private?
when we teach our kids that they can trust their instincts in a hundred ways every day: how much they want to eat, when they go to sleep ect, arent we also teaching them that if what an adult is telling them (i will kill your family if u tell what i made u do) doesnt sound right, they can tell us and be believed?
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#12 of 14 Old 04-13-2002, 11:34 PM
 
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Earthymama,

I do say, no one should touch u in this way until you are an adult and love the person with all of your heart and soul. Mommy and Daddy touch each other and it makes them feel good. And do you know how mommy and daddy made you? And I tell her just the way the many many books tell her.

My dd is in on-sight day care (for about 2 hour per day) and her teachers there NEVER take her to the potty. They call me (or I hear her because I have cameras and monitors) and I, or my dh, run to get her.

I try to teach her to trust her instincts: I never tell her how much to eat (or whether she should eat at all but it would be nice if you kept mommy and daddy company at the table while they eat), sleeping or napping is not required either (nobody can force you to sleep when you aren't sleepy, but come lay down with mommy if you want to and when you want to).

The only thing she is REQUIRED to do is not hurt others, not hurt herself, not hurt non-human animals, and not hurt the earth. Other stuff is pretty negotiable. YIKES, I even had to give up on my rule that her hair needed to be washed EVERY DAY. (Thanks to an old thread on these boards.)

Edited to add: Mommy touching my clitoris feels ticklish. I know or Good. You can touch any part of your body all you want (when she is older or it becomes a distraction for my dh or myself, I will add Remember that is something to be done in private.)

Also, edited to add: It isn't day care workers or strangers that I am afraid. Unfortunately, I come from a very disfunctional family where my father molested children (I only suspect from bits and pieces of stories I have heard) and where my then 19-year-old brother raped my then 13-year-old sister by first getting her drunk and drugging her up and where one of my nieces was molested by a cousin ten years older than her when she was about 3 or 4. So, thus, my paranoia and thus my insistence that nothing like that happen to my dd.

I read up on this stuff pretty regularly in the hopes that I am doing it right and empowering her instead of making her paranoid like I am.
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#13 of 14 Old 04-16-2002, 02:35 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone for their wise words and help. I'm going to see if I can find that book at the library too!

Warmly~

Lisa

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#14 of 14 Old 04-16-2002, 04:12 PM
 
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Wow, Ruth, it sounds like you are doing an awesome job with this! Thanks so much for addressing my questions, I really like how you have educating your child about their body just matter-of-factly integrated daily life (so much better than the infrequent awkward Facts of Life kind of lectures). I think I can do this!!!
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