Body Safety Ages 3-6
From baby teeth coming in and those first steps and stumbles, to never-ending questions and huge imaginations, your child has grown so much in just a few years! As they’ve gotten older, you may have noticed your child takes more interest in their body. They may notice that their body looks different from everyone else’s. Now is the perfect time to start teaching your child about their body and how to keep it safe. We’ve got some helpful tips for you. It’s just like teaching your child to cross the street safely or to avoid a hot stove.
Tips to Talk About Safe and Unsafe Touches and Healthy Body Boundaries
- Avoid describing touch as good or bad. That can cause confusion for a child experiencing abuse. Many kinds of touches feel good which can cause confusion for a child. Remember to describe touch as safe and unsafe.
- When your child can identify their head, shoulders, knees, and toes, start teaching them the proper words for their private parts, like penis, vagina and buttocks.
- Avoid using nicknames for private parts. This can cause confusion if a child discloses sexual abuse.
- Teach your child boundaries about their body including their private parts.
- Tell your child it’s not okay for someone to touch their private parts or have your child touch someone’s private parts.
- Explain to your child that some secrets may be dangerous or can get someone hurt. If your child is asked to keep a secret, they should tell you about it.
- Teach them that they have the right to tell anyone no to any kind of touch on their body, including safe touch. They can even tell you no if they don’t want a hug or kiss!
- Remind your child often that they are safe to come and talk to you about anything, and that you’ll believe them!
Body Safety Ages 7 to 11
Elementary school years are an exciting time! Your child is making friends and they’re starting to have some independence. They are also learning many new things. One of those new things is becoming more curious about sex and the body. Many children start talking about sex by the time they’re 8 years old. We have some tips and tricks to help you direct the conversation. These will help you build trust with your child. It’s okay to feel nervous or not know all the answers to their questions!
- Be an active listener. When your child has questions about their body (or anything at all!), turn off and put away distractions. Look at your child. Show them you’re listening by nodding your head, saying things like “yes.”
- Consent is key! Let your child know they can say NO to any kind of touch from you, family, friends or anyone.
- Tell your child often that they are safe to come and talk to you about anything or ask questions. Tell them you’ll always believe them. It may take several reminders before it sticks.
- Avoid describing touch as good or bad. Remember to describe touch as safe and unsafe.
- Teach your child the proper words for their private parts, like penis, vagina and buttocks. Avoid using nicknames for private parts, such as “cookie” for vagina. That may cause confusion if a child talks about receiving an unsafe touch.
- Explain to your child that it’s not okay for someone to touch their private parts.
- It’s also not okay for your child to touch someone else’s private parts.
- Talk to your child about sex if you haven’t already. If they don’t learn it from you, there’s a good chance they’ll learn wrong information from someone else.
- It’s okay to not know the answers to all your child’s questions. You can look up the answers together. Or you can look it up yourself and tell your child later.
- Explain to your child that they should never share pictures of themselves (even ones without private parts) to anyone they meet on games or social media.
- If anyone asks your child to take pictures of themselves or share information, or if they receive pictures from someone, have your child tell you immediately.
- Mention that they should also never share personal information online, like their name, age or address.
The Department of Health and Human Service’s website, “Talk to Your Kids About Sex and Healthy Relationships"
The Mayerson Center Digital Safety Resource
Body Safety for Preteens / Teens
Your little baby isn’t so little anymore! Young adulthood is an exciting time. It can also be stressful and scary for both you and your child. Growing up brings more independence, new relationships and discovering who they are. Growing up includes trying new things. Some of these can be risky. It’s important to let your child grow and learn from their own experiences. It’s just as important that they have the tools to guide and protect themselves!
Tips to Keep the Conversation Going
- Consent is KEY! It’s a clear, voluntary and spoken, “yes.”
- Tell your teen if they’ve already said “yes” they can change their mind at any time and say “no.”
- Teach your child that they can tell anyone no to any kind of touch.
- It is never okay for someone to pressure them into any kind of sexual activity. It’s also not okay for them to try and pressure someone.
- Explain that they should not share or receive pictures or videos of private parts over social media or online. If someone asks them to send pictures or videos, or they receive them from someone, they should tell you immediately.
- Even though it doesn’t replace spoken consent, teach them to also pay attention to someone’s body language.
- Talk to your child about being under the influence. A yes under the effects of drugs or alcohol is NOT consent! It is not okay for any kind of sexual contact to happen if anyone has been drinking or using drugs.
- Remind your child often that it is safe to come and talk to you or a trusted adult about anything, and that they’ll be believed.