Talking with your child about things like touching and private body parts isn’t easy. It’s common to feel uncomfortable and embarrassed, and you may not know where to start. But the good news is, you can weave these conversations into the interactions you have with your kids every day, like bedtime, reading time, and at meals.
Use Everyday Moments
Try to be open to questions and comments, and respond in a way that keeps the conversation going. Be sure your responses are appropriate for your child’s age.
Bath or Bedtime
When children are young and still need help with dressing and bathing, it’s not unusual for them to ask the names of private body parts. Experts recommend teaching the correct names for private body parts, along with the names of other parts of the child’s body. This makes the discussion less awkward and enables children to use actual words to describe their private body parts and to tell about abuse if it happens.
Here’s a list of books (Early Learning, K–3, 4–5) that can help you teach safety for private body parts, along with some suggestions for how to read them together:
- Read the book aloud and listen carefully to what your child says.
- Use your child’s questions and comments as entry points to talk further about safety and private body parts and to introduce safety rules.
- Ask open-ended questions: “What do you think the boy should do?” “What kind of safe touch happened in the story?”
Leaving the House, Especially Without You
Go over safety rules often, including rules for private body parts, before going on an outing. Ask questions (“Do you remember how we cross the street safely?” or “What are our safety rules about private body parts?”) and practice together (“What would you say to someone who tried to break the touching rule?”).
When a child expresses curiosity about his or her body or about sexuality. Use such moments as an opportunity to follow up with age-appropriate information. Here are some books you can read on the subject (Early Learning, K–3, 4–5) so you’ll be ready when your child asks questions.
Repeat and Review
Just like talking about crossing the street safely, talking about safety for private body parts isn’t a one-time conversation. Kids need frequent reminders and practice of all family safety rules. Make sure your kids are learning the rules and skills to keep them safe by repeating and reviewing them during normal family activities.
But Most Important…
It’s completely normal to be embarrassed and nervous at the idea of talking to kids about safety for private body parts. But you can find a way that works for you and then begin the conversation.