Safe, Unsafe, and Unwanted Touches
To continue the discussion of privacy and children here is information about teaching children about safe, unsafe, and unwanted touches.
Although there is no medical concern when children touch their genitals, they must learn not to touch their genitals when other people are present.
In her article, "Teaching Preschoolers About Privacy" psychologist Debra W. Haffner, explains, “Regardless of your values about privacy, all children need to learn that touching their genitals is a private behavior, just like using the bathroom for most families is a private behavior -- at least once everyone in the household is toilet-trained. Preschoolers are old enough to understand that other people will be upset if they see them touching their genitals in public, and that this type of behavior should be reserved for when they are alone in a private place.” http://www.drspock.com/article/0,1510,9036,00.html
Ms. Haffner explains, “A simple definition of privacy for a preschooler is: ‘Private places are places where you can expect to be alone for a while when you want to. In [your] home, a private place for you is (your bedroom, the bathroom, whatever you think is appropriate).’”
When discussing privacy and self respect children must be allowed to decide who is allowed to touch them as well. After being potty-trained nannies do not need to touch children’s genital areas.
Caregivers must teach children there are three kinds of touches.
According to the Committee for Children web site http://www.cfchildren.org/ the three kinds of touches are safe touches, unsafe touches, and unwanted touches.
Safe Touches. These are touches that keep children safe and are good for them, and that make children feel cared for and important. Safe touches can include hugging, pats on the back, and an arm around the shoulder. Safe touches can also include touches that might hurt, such as removing a splinter. Explain to children that when you remove a splinter, you are doing so to keep them healthy, which makes it a safe touch.
Unsafe Touches. These are touches that hurt children's bodies or feelings (for example, hitting, pushing, pinching, and kicking). Teach children that these kinds of touches are not okay.
Unwanted Touches. These are touches that might be safe but that a child doesn't want from that person or at that moment. It is okay for a child to say, "No," to an unwanted touch, even if it is from a familiar person. Help children practice saying "No" in a strong, yet polite voice. This will help children learn to set personal boundaries.
If children violate the privacy of the parents, au pairs, or nannies, they should immediately be disciplined. The rules about privacy should be fair and consistent. Children cannot be rewarded with attention for swearing or telling secrets. Instead, time-outs should be used when inappropriate public behavior occurs.
Have you had the discussion about safe and unsafe touches with children? Click "comments" to respond below.