Your child needs to know that his body is his and his alone and that no one has the right to touch it in an inappropriate way that’s hurtful or makes him feel violated—not you, not anyone. When you teach him about boundaries, also talk with him about this.
This means he gets to have a say in what happens to his body. That doesn’t mean he has the final say, though; having his diaper changed or his body washed are non-negotiable. If he objects to something you’re doing that must be done, acknowledge his feelings, saying something like, “I know you feel angry because you have to get dressed now, but it’s time to leave for soccer and we can’t have you running around naked,” or “I know it doesn’t feel good when I put the rash cream on, but it’s important for you to get better.”
The only time your child should have to endure someone doing something painful to his body is when it’s appropriate and necessary, say, to treat an injury or have a medical procedure. To teach him this, you could say, “Sometimes when you go to the doctor she may have to give you a shot that hurts for a just a second, but no one else is ever allowed to touch your body, especially your private parts, in a way that hurts you or makes you feel yucky inside.”
Speaking of doctor’s visits, you need to explain to your child that sometimes the doctor will need to touch his private parts to ensure they’re healthy. ALWAYS stay in the room with your child during any doctor’s exam and for heaven’s sake, keep your eyes open and not on your phone screen. If the doctor asks you to leave the room for a legitimate reason (I can’t think of good one), be sure a nurse or assistant stays in the room with them to provide oversight.
The same applies at the dentist’s office (mouths are private too!). Prepare your child in advance of his first dental visit by explaining that the dentist will look at and touch the inside of his mouth.
Almost forgot; when you teach your child not to let others touch his private parts, also tell him he’s not to touch other people’s private parts either. This way, if someone tries to make him touch them inappropriately, your child won’t go along with it because you never warned him not to. “Not touching other people” includes your child putting his hands on or down anyone’s pants or up their skirt because he was told to by the other child or adult.
Giving your child permission to be the boss of his own body is a gift that will serve him throughout his life.
Be the parent your child deserves!
the Badass Grandma
About CJ Scarlet
CJ Scarlet, aka the “Badass Grandma,” is a danger expert, victim advocate, and crime survivor herself. Most importantly, Scarlet is the doting grandma of three precocious toddlers. CJ has given speeches and workshops at national and international events; and has appeared on numerous radio and television programs, including MSNBC and NPR.
The former U.S. Marine photojournalist and forest firefighter holds an interdisciplinary master’s degree in Humanities with an emphasis on human violence from Old Dominion University. Named one of the “Happy 100” people on the planet, CJ’s story of triumph over adversity is featured in two bestselling books, including Happy for No Reason and Be Invincible.