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