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Age-appropriate ways to teach your child body safety rules

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It is important to have age-appropriate body safety rules in your home. These are written or unwritten rules, which governs your home as regards to safety boundaries and abuse, says parenting enthusiast and Founder Fabmumng.com, Jayne Augoye.

A lot of mums who are extra-careful can have it written and pasted everywhere in the home, so kids can read it very often till it becomes a habit. She said that basically, body safety rules are boundaries that shouldn’t be crossed by any person including you the parent.

Mrs. Augoye listed these points for parents to take note of:
• No one is allowed to touch my private parts: You must first identify what private parts are which are their breasts and chest area (even though it’s not developed for the girls, it is still private), bums, thighs, arms. So basically any place covered by clothing is considered private. Which can only be touched by mummy or caregiver when having a bath. Of course you must have grown to trust the caregiver.

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• I am not allowed to touch another’s private parts: It is not enough that your child comes and touches your bums or breast, by the time you continue to condone this, the child can do it to any other person and so that gives signal to even a pedophile that this child is even aware of private parts. So you need to set those boundaries, teach your child (ren), that nobody touches you and you don’t touch another, these include the stomach, breasts, vagina, lips, they are all private.

• No one is allowed to take pictures of my private parts and I am not allowed to do same to another: Although this is a bit dicey because I don’t think this is quite common in Nigeria, but then don’t rule out the fact. Children are inquisitive by nature; as they become older, they get a lot more conscious about their privates, so if you have a son, he begins to touch his private part, it doesn’t mean he is being harassed or molested, but he is being aware of his body. You find girls wondering why the boys have penis and they have vagina, it is part of growing up. You must also reiterate the fact that they must not take pictures of another’s private parts and not allow same to them either.

• If someone tries to touch my private parts, scream and say NO: I always tell my children to react and report when anyone tries to touch their private parts. This means also that you have to teach your child boundaries. Another thing is, even when your nanny baths your children, do you allow them wash your child’s private parts? My children are a bit older and so I let them bathe themselves, but then at least twice a week, I give them a thorough mummy bath.

• There is no secret in this home: You must be transparent and be open as possible with your children. Have an open-door policy such that your children can feel free to tell you anything and even when they tell you something that feels really awful or takes you aback, don’t scream or react harshly to them. The normal human reflex will be to withdraw and so once your child knows that mummy can be hyper when reacting, they keep to themselves. The mistake our parents made while we were growing up was not teaching us the things we needed to know and is one of the reasons why a lot of children suffered abuse.

I, as a child while growing up, my dad’s friend, brought out his organ (I later grew up to know that is what its called), and asked me to rub it as he was having a headache, and I did it thinking I was helping him out, only to find out a white substance coming out (which I now know to be semen). So we need to be very observant and ensure our children don’t fall into the hands of these paedophiles; they are our neighbours, friends, customers, colleagues, and pastors. They don’t look like evil people.

The mum of triplets said that parents should take out time to draw up their customised body safety rules, have it written on your walls and regularly drum it into the ears of your children. Once your child starts keeping secrets, it is the fastest way to lose connection with your child.

Augoye added that children from ages 2 to 5, should be taught the names of their private parts and not ‘peepee’, or ‘weewee’, the organs should be called their real names. This helps them state clearly when there is need for investigations. From age seven and above which is considered as pre-teen, they get more aware of their sexuality and so you begin to teach them sex education and how babies are made.

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Child body safety
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