In the face of tragedies, parents may face a lot of questions from their kids. It is very important we address them and not avoid it.
To help us better communicate the issue and safety to our little ones, Aparna Samuel Balasundaram [Psychotherapist and Family Counselor] was in conversation with Neela Kaushik to address our concerns in an FB Live Session.
More questions answered by Aparna post the session
Q: My son is 2years 3 months. And I am already worried mum . I haven’t started school yet for him. How do I work on my anxiety and how and when can I start good and bad touch for him?
Thank you for your question and I completely get where you are coming from. However, it starts with us. We need to keep our anxiety in check, especially in front of our kids. While we must show our emotions, and be honest with our children, we also need to use wisdom and discretion while talking to them. We should not be fatalistic and extreme in our words and attitudes, for example in the presence of our children we should not make sweeping statements like ‘no one is safe is schools nonowadaysGurgaon is the murder/rape capital of India, all men are animals’ ‘.ur children are watching us and our anxieties will overspill onto them, creating a state of excess anxiety in them. So, talk to other adults about the more horrific details of how you feel, what your deep fears are or how deeply angered you feel. Do not dump this on your child.
As for the safe touch, by 3 years is usually a good time to start that conversation. As children are aware of their body parts and you should talking about ‘private’ body parts [ including the mouth area].
Even as a parent, I have always loved the Berenstain Bears series. You could check out this book:
The Berenstain Bears Learn About Strangers
Some other recommended books:
Amazing You! Getting Smart About Your Private Parts Paperback by Gail Saltz (Author)
It’s Not the Stork! A Book About Girls, Boys, Babies, Bodies, Families and Friends
Q: We teach our kids to respect the community helpers. But now the need of the hour is to tell them to be wary. How to broach this? ?
You could tell your child that sometimes adults do bad things to others and hurt others- including children. And this is not the child’s fault. As an adult you [and other adults- like the teachers/principal at school….and other caring adults in the child’s social environment] are doing everything you all can to keep him/her safe, as well as other children too.
Q: How to explain to kids about masturbation?
I would recommend you wait till your child is at least 10 or 11 to have this conversation. [ or once you notice bodily changes] as before that [ for kids as young as 4 years] that are just rubbing or touching themselves [ in the genitals] because it feels different – it feels good as it is ticklish, tingly! Sometimes they might be just bored or use it to relax. This is not masturbation in the way we understand it as adults. It’s like a good itch that feels good to scratch! So, at that young age of 3 or 4, it’s not a 100% sexual behavior.
Once they are older [ 11 or 12], masturbation becomes more goal-driven, for example for boys in particular they are trying to get to the point of orgasm. They start having wet dreams too. Now talk to them about masturbation:
- Tell them it’s normal to have these urges. Please do NOT SHAME them or punish them
- It is normal frothier genital areas to feel good when touched
- And when they touch themselves [ penis/vagina] its makes them feel a new kind of good [a new kind of feeling] This self-touching is called masturbation.
- While this is normal, it needs to be done in the privacy of their bathrooms and they cannot spend excess time locked in there!
- I know it’s hard, but I would highly recommend keeping their exposure to pornography to a minimum or not at all [ as for young minds it can get confusing and can be addictive]. So, make sure they do not take any phones/tablets are taken to the bathroom! Also, if any adult at home is watching [ you erase the history or use the incognito tab]
Mentioned are a few video links that would be helpful for kids
Teaching children about Good Touch & Bad Touch
Self Defense Techniques
CBSE Issues a Circular to Schools Regarding the Safety of Children in Schools