Discussing With Your Child About Inappropriate Touching

Discussing Inappropriate Touching

As parents we constantly remind our kids to look both ways before crossing a street, to not talk to strangers, to always wear a seatbelt, to not play with fire, and more. However, we often end up delaying bringing up the more awkward topics for discussion. One such topic is good touch vs bad touch.

We know how important it is to have that conversation with our little ones but we just don’t feel comfortable talking about it. We are either not able to understand how to approach the topic or what would be the right time to hold the conversation. More often than not, we are too concerned about scaring the kids and rely on the school to have that conversation with them. It is vital to understand that if you feel so awkward about this subject, then the child will feel all the more conscious to discuss the topic with you or come to you if or when he/she encounters some behaviour that makes him/her feel uncomfortable.

The right time to have the talk

One way to know the right time for an awkward conversation is the moment the child comes to you with a query pertaining to such topics. It is a sign that the child is curious and is seeking answers to something. When it comes to good touch/bad touch, most experts believe that it is good to have a conversation about it when the kids are in their preschool years. It is important to ensure that when you decide to have the talk with the child, the environment is such that there is room for a long-drawn discussion. Bring the topic up when you know that you have ample free time to give complete attention to your child. Also, check if the child is in the right headspace before you bring the topic up. If your child is not well or is angry, irritated, hungry, or restless about something, then perhaps you can move the discussion to a better time. 

Evolution of the conversation

Discussing inappropriate touching is not something that you just have once during a child’s pre-school years and then forget about it. It is necessary to keep having the conversation. As your child gets older, your conversation regarding this topic must evolve as well and become more age-appropriate. For instance, a 9-year-old child may have certain questions about good touch/bad touch that a 5-year-old may not have. Likewise, the type of questions that a 15-year-old may have about body safety may not be the same as those asked by a 6-year-old. As our children make more and more friends, get more exposure to media, and get a better understanding of their own bodies, their questions will also change. It is important to let them know that you are there to resolve any conflicts or disagreeable situations. The key is to keep reviewing the topic frequently and letting your child’s questions guide you as to what type of information you need to provide.

Just because we are parents, it does not mean that we are wired to have all kinds of conversations with our kids. However, no matter how difficult or challenging it may feel to initiate such conversations. Remember that it is better for the child to have such conversations with you first rather than seek answers elsewhere. Once you resolve to get into the tough conversations, you will realise that more often than not, your child will be leading the way. All you have to do is listen to the child and offer him/her a safe and secure environment to let them know that they can open up without worrying about getting judged or snubbed.

Authored by Bhavna Bhalla,
A full-time mother for the last six years and a part-time writer for over a decade with a passion for travelling and engaging in intellectually-stimulating conversations.