Dear Dr.Eve – How to talk to your child about body safety

“Dear Dr. Eve,
As a very conscious parent, I need guidance on how to talk to my 6-year-old child about safety. By that, I mean body safety. I was sexually abused as a child and I really want to prevent this from happening to her. I find this
conversation very difficult to have with her. Where should I begin?
Soraya.”

Dr.Eve Replies:

“Dear Soraya,
Talking about unsafe touch and sexual abuse are among the toughest
conversations a parent/caregiver can have with a child. So at the outset, I
want to admire you for wanting to engage in a conversation that causes
parents to remain silent and avoidant. Most especially for you, a survivor
of childhood sexual abuse, these conversations can be triggering for you.

Here is a guideline that I am sure will be helpful to you. I have taken a
a lot of this information from an incredible resource, a resource that I
advise for all parents. https://www.amazon.com/Sex-Positive-Talks-
Have-Kids/dp/B08L2L5DK9
Another amazing resource is right here :
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SHyNFSgBWKs

GUIDE TO HELP YOUR CHILD DEVELOP BODY AWARENESS &
BOUNDARIES:

  1. The primary protection you can offer your child is an awareness of
    their bodies and their right to put boundaries of safety around their
    bodies.
  2. Begin by sitting with feelings you carrying into parenting: your
    own trauma’s, beliefs, perceptions, values, and your understanding
    of your own body.
  3. Notice your own somatic (body) reactions to your child’s emerging
    sexuality as there may be triggers there for you.
  4. Be sure to prioritize regulating your own relationship with your body
    and be solid in your own body boundaries.
  5. Remember your child mirrors you so the way you boundary your
    body through posture, gestures, movement, will be more impactful
    than any words, you can say to your child.
  6. With other people, maintain your own voice – speak up to other
    people in your children’s lives who may feel entitled to touch and
    play with them for example, extended family members and friends.
  7. If you notice people are not respecting your child’s boundaries,
    and autonomy (saying NO), find your voice and speak up. It may
    be challenging as you may have grown up with these same people
    who felt entitled to your body.
  8. Speak up to create a different experience for your child
  9. This will heal you as you find your own voice to communicate your
    boundaries for your child.
  10. Your child will see and hear this and send a consistent
    message to them that they are then able to say NO.
  11. Watch how you are interacting generally. If your child is
    witness to someone violating your consent, they observe.
  12. Ask yourself: are you being congruent with messages of
    consent that you are sending: both verbally and nonverbally.
  13. As a parent, respect your child’s everyday boundaries. For
    example, when they choose an item of clothing to wear and you
    say NO, you are undermining their autonomy and bodily integrity.
  14. If you don’t respect their NO, ultimately you are grooming
    them for abuse, grooming them for someone else to violate their
    boundaries as they learn that NO is meaningless.
  15. Another example of around Food and mealtime: Stick with
    mealtime routine and rituals, that is vital.
  16. Notice: when your child says: “ I don’t like that” or “I’m full”
    .. are you ignoring their body cues? Are you honoring this or do
    you keep giving them that food to soothe your own anxieties about
    food and feeding them the right food?
  17. The message is: Support your child and their empowerment
    by allowing them to connect to their bodies.
  18. This lays the foundation for their safety as social and sexual
    adults. : they will learn that they are entitled to sexual and
    intimate pleasure and that performing for other people’s comfort
    and joy is a boundary violation.”

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