These words have made their way across the internet. This is a topic close to my heart. But this is a topic close to the hearts of all parents. How do we keep our kids safe?
In this blog, I share my thoughts on this.
So, how do we keep kids safe?
Ditch obligation hugs. They don't have to hug grandma or great uncle if they don't want to. They actually don't even have to give a high five instead. You can say goodbye on their behalf. Model. That's enough.
If you're saying things like: "but don't you love me?" and "aw, come on, I'll be sad" to get a hug from a child, you're setting them up to oblige in situations where they are not safe. Please don't do this.
Don't keep secrets. There are no secrets. There are surprises. Surprise parties, gifts, a beautiful gesture. But no secrets. Actively state: "I don't keep secrets, only surprises." This ensures that alarm bells ring for a child when someone tells them that they must keep a secret. And if you're extended family, uphold this. Don't encourage children to keep secrets from their parents especially. Even small. Be consistent.
Encourage children to trust their gut. Validate all feelings. If they are sad, validate and nurture. If they are angry, validate and nurture. If they are scared, validate and nurture. The more we validate our child's emotions, the more they will feel safe to explore them. The more they will recognise and be able to identify how they are feeling. And then communicate that with you. The more they will be able to quickly identify if something feels "off". See how this is so much deeper than simply teaching kids how to "get over it"? Validating emotional responses is also about safety. So important.
Teach children the anatomically correct name for their body. Say penis, vagina, vulva... When we teach children "nicknames", they may grow to learn that these parts of the body are shameful. If we can't say vagina, it must not be something that's spoken of. It also makes it easier for children to disclose abuse. And harder for perpetrators to cover up their deceit. Apparently, children are less likely be abused if they know and regularly use the correct terminology - because perpetrators fear that children can then disclose with clarity.
Believe children. Over anything. Take their words and hold them like the law. Act on them like your life depends on it - because theirs does.
Let's keep the conversation going. Talk to me about your thoughts on this topic. What are you doing in your family at the moment to normalise setting boundaries and keeping each other safe? Comment below or join the conversation on Instagram or Facebook.
As always, The Postnatal Project is home to many different resources - focusing on the wellbeing of the parent, so that you can keep parenting with heart.