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December 2016:  Seizing Teachable Moments Over the Holidays!

Dear Friend,Feather Berkower, Parenting Safe Children

This year we have a trifecta of holidays happening at the same time: Christmas, Hanukkah, and Kawanza, and I wish you a beautiful holiday season with friends and family.

In this issue, I share some teachable moments that you can seize during the holiday season. May you raise the children in your life to feel confident, proud, and ever clear about their boundaries and body safety.

Peace and love,


Grandma Wants a Hug  Teachable MomentPSC - Mother & Grandson

The holidays are a time of greetings and affection, so it’s particularly important to remember that children and teens are safer when they get to choose when and with whom to show affection.

If a family member or friend wants to greet your child with a hug or kiss, and your child does not want to, then seize this teachable moment and stand up for your child by modeling healthy boundaries and communicating clearly. For example:

Grandma: “Oh, it’s so good to see you, honey. Give grandma a hug.”

Mom or Dad: “I know you’re a hugger, Mom, but we’ve taught Darius that he gets to choose when he shows affection and it looks like he doesn’t want to hug right now. Darius, is there another way you'd like to say hi to grandma besides hugging her?"

I know how natural it is for parents and grandparents to want to shower their children and grandchildren with hugs and kisses, but giving children a choice about physical affection teaches that consent matters.

It is never a child’s job to manage the feelings of other people. For more on this topic, check out the Parenting Safe Children December 16th post on Facebook.

When Children Play  Teachable MomentPSC - Children in snow

You’ve just eaten a big meal and the children, of all different ages, are restless. They want to go play while the adults linger over coffee. What kind of supervision is required to ensure everyone’s safety?

Children can get into scenarios while playing which can be compromising. Remind kids to keep the doors open and review body-safety practices with them. Also let the kids know to come ask if they need anything, and let them know that you’ll be in to check on them regularly.

As children go off to play, remind both the children and the adults about your family’s four body-safety practices:

Pay particular attention to much older children who are playing with much younger children—i.e., an age difference of four or more years. Consider these scenarios between Justin (14 years old) and Jaime (6 years old), and note the behaviors of potential or actual concern:

Children need supervision regardless of the setting. Listen to your intuition and speak up if you feel uncomfortable. By communicating safety practices in front of other adults, you are modeling prevention and opening the door for conversation.

Air Travel Teachable MomentFamily at Airport

Whether you are traveling over the holidays or sometime in 2017, here are body-safety conversation tips for talking with your children about airport security, x-ray machines, and pat downs.

  1. Talk with children about airport and airplane rules. With young children (< age 8), have this conversation on the way to the airport. With older children (ages 8+), you can have the conversation further in advance if you wish. Language for young children: "People who work at airports have rules we must follow just like at home, school, and other places. These rules keep everyone safe."
  2. Compare airport safety to other kinds of safety. Language for young children: "Just like you have to sit in your car seat when we drive or wear a helmet when you ride your bike, there are certain rules at the airport."
  3. To make the topic of safety less scary, weave in general safety expectations. Language for young children: "On the plane, we stay in our seats unless we are using the toilet. We keep our seat belt on at all times."
  4. Explain to children what to expect. Language for young children: "We’ll check our bags and then we’ll stand in a line where we have to take off our shoes, jackets and belts. Then we’ll go through a metal detector or x-ray machine. In addition, a person who works at the airport and wears a uniform may have to touch our bodies over our clothes to make sure we are safe to get on the airplane."
  5. Answer questions directly and simply. Provide more details if your children are older and ask more questions.  Language for young children: For instance, if a child asks why there are x-ray machines – "Because no one is allowed to take a knife or scissors or nail clippers on airplanes, and sometimes people forget to leave them home."
  6. If a pat down is requested, use this as a teachable moment to assert the body-safety rule on touching private parts. Language for young children: "We've talked about body-safety rules and you know that no one is allowed to touch the private areas of your body except when the doctor needs to examine you and Mom or Dad is in the room with you. Well, this is another exception. The airport person may need to touch your body over your clothes. This is the only time someone can do this at the airport and I will be with you."

As always, try to make prevention fun. You might play a “what if game” to reinforce body safety at the airport, while including other situations as well.

► "What if someone else in the airport tried to touch your body—what would you say and do?"
► "What if your babysitter wanted you to keep a secret—what would you say and do?"
► "What if a kid at school wanted to look at your private parts in the bathroom—what would you say and do?"

The answer to all of these questions is the same:
1.    Say “NO!”
2.    Go tell a trusted adult.

Workshop Scheduleregister now

Register now for workshops in January 2017!  I only have three workshops in January, and after that, my next workshops are in April 2017 for Child Abuse Prevention Month.

January 7, 2017 at 10:00 AM – Coyote Ridge Elementary School in Broomfield, CO
January 21, 2017 at 1:00 PM – Denver Cooperative Preschool in Denver, CO
January 28, 2017 at 10:00 AM – Compass Montessori School in Wheat Ridge, CO

Gifts of MeaningPSC Online Coupone Code
  1. Register a friend or family member, living outside Colorado, for the Parenting Safe Children Online Workshop.  (Use the coupon code OFFLIMITS for $5 off this holiday gift!)
  2. Send a signed copy of Off Limits to a loved one: Off Limits: a Parent’s Guide to Keeping Kids Safe from Sexual Abuse.
  3. Give a pack of Conversation Starter Cards so you  more easily talk with caregivers about your child’s body safety!
  4. Donate to Stop It Now, a non-profit organization with national reach that is preventing the sexual abuse of children by mobilizing adults, families and communities to take actions that protect children before they are harmed.

Like us on Facebook - Discussion of the MonthBuilding Community to Keep Kids Safe

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Join the conversation.


My Unwavering Mission

Parenting Safe Children empowers parents and professionals to
raise kids and build communities that are off limits to child sexual abuse.

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