“The other day when my son Aravind came back from school, he had a toffee with him. I asked him where he had gotten it from—he replied that an uncle who he did not know had gifted it to him. I am scared because this is not the first time Aravind has been accepting things from strangers. How can I train Aravind to take care of himself, while dealing with strangers?” writes Tanu Mishra from New Delhi.
This is a problem faced by almost all parents that has to be tackled very carefully. Above all, this issue should be seen within the wider context of child abuse. And, dealing with the strangers is just a part of it. First of all, give the child a clear picture as to who a stranger is. It is quite common for a child to think that a stranger is a scary person like a villain in cartoons. Tell him that a stranger is anyone whom the family does not know. Do not ever give the child the wrong idea that all strangers are dangerous people the child should run away from. This may make the child suspicious of any person he or she does not know, and the child needs to interact with a lot of strangers in his or her later life. Above all the child should necessarily know some strangers like policeman and fire-fighters who can help them in times of danger. Hence, explain to the kid that while most people are good, there are still a few who can hurt the child. The child should understand that he or she cannot predict whether a person is good or not, merely looking at him. This applies not only to strangers, but to people the child knows well, too. Tell the child that he or she need not worry about strangers, if he or she follows some safety rules in their life.
How can you prepare your child against child abuse?
The most effective way is role-play. So rehearse the situation in your house. You yourself can pretend to be a stranger before your kid and ask the child for help. If the child responds positively to such requests, tell him that a grown up need not ask a child for help, and so, he should reject such requests immediately. Tell the child that it is okay to say ‘no’, if a stranger tries to touch him, or offers him a candy or a toy. Empowering your little one to say no is really important. Make them understand that their tiny voice also has some commanding powers. If they are not comfortable around a person or with the way they are behaving, they have all the right to say “No” or say “STOP”. Kids often do not know how to react if they are in danger and they react to the danger silently or with a cry. So you should also encourage the kid to yell HELP in times of emergency. Teaching your kids about his parents and the place he lives in or your phone number is also of great importance. This will help the kid a lot to communicate with others about his whereabouts, in case he or she is lost in a place. Most of the time, the missing kids are not able to get back to their parents because they have no clue about their place and parents. You should tell the kids that if they are separated from you, approach the policeman in the street instead of getting panic and seeking help from all and sundry.
Child abuse is a serious issue that all parents are actually afraid of. Parents always provide all sorts of protection to keep their children safe, but most of them omit the biggest precaution, which is to educate your children about the difference between good touch and bad touch. Tell your child to always inform you about such incidents. Teach your child to always inform you about such incidents. Teach your child to be observant, careful and vigilant about his own safety. This will make him self-reliant bold and comfortable. Always remember to tell our kids that their body is their private property, and no one can touch it without his or her consent. More often than not parents use euphemistic expressions for body parts. This will give the kids the impression that they cannot talk about some body parts and they are taboo. So teach them the names of body parts correctly. And you should start telling your kids this from a very young age. Swimsuit rule is an effective way to teach your kids about their private parts. Tell your little one that the body parts which the swimsuit covers are their private parts. No one should see or touch there nor should they touch other’s private parts. Keep telling your kids that you love them and it is your duty to keep them safe. Build an environment where your children are free to discuss anything and everything with you. They should be told that if someone does something to them, then it is not their fault, and that you will not be angry with them. Be attentive to the changes in your child’s behaviour. Change in behaviour is often a symptom that your child has some problem. Adults may sometimes neglect or belittle the small concerns and fear of the little ones. Let your child express his problems to you and be a patient listener. Ask him to move away from a person who makes him uncomfortable. Always remember to choose your words carefully and be lovable and compassionate. Tell them that everybody will make mistakes and that you still love them even when you do not love their behaviour. This will motivate the kid to open up with you.
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