‘3 YEAR OLD SEXUALLY ASSAULTED BY UNCLE’ read the Newspaper headlines. Stories of abuse have taken a toll in today’s times. Sometimes there are blazing headlines – 'Driver jailed for assaulting 5-year-old' to '10 year old’s sketches send rapist uncle to jail'. In an overwhelming majority of the cases young children are assaulted by someone who is part of the household – uncle, neighbour, teacher and so on.
Being a mother of two young daughters, it was absolute alarming for Megha. But she was sceptic about initiating a talk with her children who were too young to understand the sensitivity of the matter.
Parents should talk to children in a way it doesn’t give the child an impression that the world is an unsafe place which would make the child nervous and fearful. Instead start sensitizing children about good touch and bad touch in casual ways.
1) Start by telling about their body parts
Kids as young as 2 years understand if you tell them. We should tell them the importance of body parts and also teach the correct anatomical words. This way you will empower your children’s knowledge about their body.
2) Talk easy
Pick the moderate tone. Don’t make the conversation inherently serious or too mushy. Talk casually and initiate the touch talk during play time or while you show some relatable videos.
3) What are private parts?
You have to tell your child that certain parts that are covered by undergarments are private. Explain that no-one has the right to touch them in places and ways that make them feel scared or uncomfortable. Follow the same rule within the family so your child will know good touch and bad touch from the perspective of his body parts.
4) Limits of politeness
There is a difference between being polite and being polite with strangers who make you uncomfortable. Allow your child to be rude when someone is not treating them right. Strive to keep open channels of communication so it’s easy for your child to tell you why they behaved in a particular way or why they didn’t feel safe.
5) Avoiding unnecessary touch
It’s okay to break some traditions of the society. Don’t force children to give goodbye kiss, sit on someone’s lap or touch feet of every elder they meet. You can make this lighter by teaching your child some modern ways of greeting someone – waving hand, a high-five or just greeting verbally.
Getting children to adopt a healthy lifestyle requires consistency in practising healthy habits. Research shows that healthy lifestyle habits are most effective when developed during the early years. Below are some points that will help you ask yourself if your child is leading a much-needed healthy lifestyle.
1. WHAT FOOD IS GOOD
Most children of this age are nit-pickers and to get your child eat healthy food, the food plate has to look appealing. You can do this by incorporating a range of fruits and vegetables which can add colours to their diet. This way the child will enjoy the food and slowly get used to eating healthy food. Make food time an opportunity to educate your child about proteins and nutrients in their language.
(Example: Spinach has iron that will help you become strong like Popeye!)
2. BRUSHING TWICE A DAY
When it comes to brushing teeth, children are often lazy. Explain why it is important to keep her teeth clean and all about dental care. To encourage the habit, you can bring funky toothbrush and pleasant toothpaste. Do a brush your teeth dance and make brushing a fun activity.
3. SLEEPING ON TIME
Establish a proper sleep schedule of going to bed and waking up on fixed timings. To ensure regular bedtime for kids, adults are also encouraged to adopt this healthy practice. You can also form the habit of reading to your child before going to bed which has innumerable benefits to itself.
4. PLAYING OUTDOORS
The more kids move, the healthier they are. Contrary to this, today children are tech savvy and are allowed to sit in front of the TV or play screen games. You should instead boost your child for physical activity, preferably playing outdoors for at least an hour a day. Bicycle riding, tramp lining, playing with a ball, running – anything that gets them moving should be fortified.
5. CLEANING UP THE MESS
In order to get kids to clean their room, you’ll have to explain to your children that they have a responsibility to care for their things. Even toddlers can be encouraged to pick up toys, and put them away. You can initiate this practice by making clean-up fun by announcing a timer game of – who picks the most number of toys on a countdown of 50.
6. PERSONAL HYGIENE
Bathing can become a toddler’s worst nightmare. And he/she is always reluctant when it comes to bath, especially if she suspects he/she needs to shower with hot water. To cut down bath time fear, make it look a fun time by adding toys in the bath tub and singing along. Try to get a pair of goggles which can cover the child’s eyes while hair washing so it doesn’t irritate his eyes.