Thursday, June 9, 2016

Body Confidence for Kids


As a therapist, I am blessed to work with a wide age-range of people. Since August, I have spent more time working with children since I started working at a private school. Playing in the sandbox with my 2 year olds, to discussing the latest relationships in the 8th grade world, I wake up not knowing what new thing I will learn about children! Being so involved in their little worlds, now more than ever I can’t seem to understand why anyone would want to destroy their innocence. Although it is important to know how to recognize child predators and their typical behaviors, I also think it is important for children to be taught confidence in their bodies and skills so that they can advocate for themselves.

First, it is important to call body parts by their biological names. Most of us were probably taught some sort of nickname to make it “age appropriate” and cute, but this actually creates mystery towards our God-given body parts. If children know the name of their body parts, and who is allowed to touch them (parents, pediatrician, etc.), they will know when there is someone around them who does not have the best intentions. Also, the faster you teach your child to be self-sufficient in the bathroom, the quicker they will no longer need help in this area. Child predators know that they easiest way to get personal access to a child is be involved in any of their bathroom activities. If a child knows how to do this on their own, they will not need to ask for help…which ultimately decreases your child’s chances of being in a situation with a predator.

Secondly, create a “No Secrets” rule in your family. Starting this at a young age will definitely help when they become teenagers! However, this will also help so that if a stranger ever tells your child to “keep this a secret”, your child will know that something is wrong and will hopefully tell the first trusted authority figure that they see.

Third, never force a child to hug or kiss someone. Especially a person they do not know. Society often tells us that if we do not respond with a hug or kiss, then we are being rude. However, there are plenty of ways to be kind without forcing such a personal gesture. Smiling, waving, and fist bumps are just a few ways. If a child is taught that they will never be forced to hug or kiss someone, then they will not feel any pressure to accept an invitation from a potential predator.

Hopefully these tips help create the confidence our kids need to trust their instincts and know when they are being violated.

Continuing to break the stigma,

Elise Banks
Miss International 2015

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