Growing up in a typical Indian household, sex is often a taboo topic for most parents. Children are barely ever given ‘the talk’ and most of them enter teenage with little or no knowledge of sexuality. But this also renders them incapable of identifying threats from sexual predators and arming themselves against them.
1. Use the right language: We often tend to use euphemisms to talk about sex. But it is essential for children to understand that there is no taboo around it and it begins with parents calling their genitals for what they are – a penis and a vagina. It is important to make your kids understand that there is no shame in talking about your private parts and that they can always speak to you about it.
2. Create a concept of privacy: It is important that children understand the boundaries that they must set in terms of their body. There are certain body parts that adults should not touch and if they do, the child should have the courage to come up and talk about it to their parents.
3. Give your child the ownership to his/her body: A stranger pinching your child’s cheek is an innocent enough behavior but this might be a good time to teach them to say no to someone they do not feel comfortable around. It is polite to not rebuke someone who ruffle your child’s hair or caress their cheek but it is responsible to let them know that you have certain boundaries for how strangers should behave with your child.
4. Be your child’s safe refuge: Be a parent who your child trusts. In our families, we often do not create that environment with our child where he/she is able to come to us with their problems. It is, therefore, essential for you to reinforce that as a parent, you will love them no matter what they are going through and they can trust you with their problems and worries.
5. Break the taboo around sexuality: If your 4-year-old asks, “where do babies come from?”, your immediate response is likely to be laughter, followed by “they are God’s gift to us”. This is possibly what will set the tone to your child that this topic is off-limits while propagating falsehood. The most appropriate way to deal with this is to give them an age-appropriate response.
6. Eliminate feelings of guilt: Tell your child that if anyone behaves with them in a sexually inappropriate way, they must come and inform you about the same. There is no fear or shame in doing so as telling you will help you take care of the problem and make the bad experience stop. In doing this you are essentially disarming the offender of their most powerful weapon – fear.
7. Take measures to implement internet safety: Children as young as 3 years are on the internet today and it can be an extremely scary predicament for parents. There are a number of predators online and hence, setting parental controls is the first step for you to ensure the safety of your child on the web. You must also teach them that they should never give out their information to strangers on the internet and must come to you if they ever receive inappropriate or uncomfortable messages online.
Being there for your child and letting them trust you completely so that they can be frank with you is the first step to protect your child from the sexual predators.
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