It can be scary to send our little babies off to school for the first time to a place where they will be meeting so many new people. As we send our kids off to school, we can have meaningful conversations to help them build their confidence and protect them against abuse.
How to build body safety for your school-aged child
1. Teach your child about safe and tricky grown-ups
When we are teaching our children about safe grown-ups, we want them to know that there are some things that a safe grown-up will never say or do to them. Here are a few examples that you could use as you are talking to your child about this.
A safe grown-up would never say:
- This is our little secret
- Don’t tell your parents
- You’ll get in trouble if you tell anyone
- You have to let me touch you
- You have to look at these pictures
- Don’t tell anyone what we did today
A safe grownup will never:
- Call you mean names
- Try to embarrass you on purpose
- Hurt you with their words or body
- Ask you to keep a secret
We want our children to feel safe coming to us if any of these things ever happen. We want them to know that they will never get in trouble for telling us something. If we teach them about things that safe grown-ups will never say or do and let them know that they should always come to us if something happens, we are equipping them with the confidence they need should anything happen.
2. Create your child’s high-five safety team
A high five safety team is five grown-ups that you as your child’s parent know and trust intimately. As a parent, you choose who is on this team, and you choose only the people you have the utmost trust for.
If anything happens that makes your child feel nervous or uncomfortable, or someone asks them to keep or tell a secret, they can tell someone on this team.
To help your child remember these five people, give each finger on their hand a name of someone they can trust.
An example of what this may look like is Parent, Parent, Grandma, Aunt, Teacher.
When your child has this group of people they know they can trust, they know they will always have somebody to talk to about anything, even if they are nervous to tell a parent.
When we teach our children about safe grown-ups and their high-five safety team, we want to ensure that they understand that we are teaching them this to keep them safe. We want to approach this topic with a positive lens that says, “We love you and want to make sure you always feel safe talking to us about anything”!
Even though this can be a challenging topic to talk about, it is so important! Talking about safe and tricky grown-ups will help protect your child as they enter into school!
3. Teach your child how to say “no”
Finally, we want to teach our children what to do if they ever find themself in a situation where somebody tries to touch their private areas, show them inappropriate photos, keep a secret, or makes them feel uncomfortable in any way.
The three steps we can teach them are:
- Say “no”
- Walk or run away
- Tell a trusted adult
When we teach our children these steps, we want to make sure they understand this applies to adults – both those they know and strangers – and their peers. The most common perpetrators of child abuse have a relationship with the child. They are somebody the child trusts – which is why it’s so crucial for us to equip them with the confidence to come to us in any situation where they feel uncomfortable, nervous, or scared.
Conversations about consent can be challenging to have with our innocent little children. Teaching them these three body safety tools can build their confidence and protect them from abuse as they start school. For more support on teaching your little ones about body safety and consent, check out our new workshop, Introduction to Body Safety and Consent.