The holiday season approaches and so also do family get- togethers, parties; hanging out with old and new friends. While the holidays offer a wide variety of happy times and fun filled situations, they also present the potential for our children to fall prey to child predators. Here are a few simple things to keep in mind to help keep our children safe and their memories healthy and happy!
*Set boundaries. When a child doesn’t want to be tickled or hugged or otherwise touched, parents need to step in and make sure the boundaries are understood and respected. This means not forcing our children to hug or kiss people they are not comfortable with – including grandma and grandpa!
*Minimize Opportunity. One on one situations should be limited or better yet, avoided. (Not just adults and children but also older or stronger children alone with smaller or weaker kids.)
*Talk openly with your children about appropriate and inappropriate touching. Let your kids know that they have your permission to say “NO!” and to talk about anything and everything with you. Create an open dialogue with your children about what’s appropriate and inappropriate, and the importance of trusting one’s instincts. Talking about sexual abuse is not a one-time event; it is an open, ongoing discussion that you and your children feel comfortable with. Give your children the permission they need to talk to you by talking freely and unashamedly about protecting their bodies.
*Recognize your child’s signs for being in distress or feeling uncomfortable, and step in when needed! Be okay with your own level of discomfort or inconvenience when setting healthy boundaries for your children.
*Make sure your child knows the difference between a secret (something to be hidden) and a surprise (something to be revealed) and let them know it is never okay to keep a secret.
*Trust your instincts and teach your children to trust theirs. If it feels wrong, or odd or off, it’s most likely because it is.
Put some thought into more than just the turkey and the gifts and the perfect holiday party. Your children will be better for it and so too will the world. Peace : )
Editor, Ask Lala
Laura Fogarty writes “Ask Lala” for the Stop Abuse Campaign. She is a mother, an advocate and the author of two children’s abuse prevention books: I’M THE BOSS OF ME! and WE ARE JUST ALIKE!