As a mother of a 4.5-year-old, the recent incidents of rape in a ‘safe’ city like Mumbai leave me disturbed to no end. What power can a helpless pre-schooler have against a full-grown adult? What can I, as a mother, do to ensure that my child is safe?
We live in an unsafe world. Rape is a genderless issue. It can happen to a boy or a girl. Rape and abuse can be committed by a man or woman. The challenge is to bring up a confident and assertive child despite the dangers lurking around.
As a parent, these are the 7 things I am doing. I use each of these points in moderation every day. Hope it helps you. Do share your tips too:
Open doors of communication
Make sharing a habit. Every day, share details about your day with your child. Assertively speak about your day and ask them about theirs. Making your child feel safe to share is vital. Ask simple questions and wait to listen to the answer. If there is none, then continue speaking, ask another question after a while.
E.g. Hi sweety!!!! How was your day? (no answer). My day was good, I was bit tired because of work. How did your day go? So many wonderful things happened today. I found my pencil that I had lost! Yay! I was so happy today! My boss/mumma scolded me yesterday because I didn’t bring the pencil. When I found it, everyone was so happy. Tell me, how was your day?
Use Story-telling as a tool to instil solution-based behaviour
Fairy tales are passé. Monsters are not ugly creatures who jump out of nowhere. They are people who look and behave normally. They are those uncles and aunties, bhaiyas and didis who live and interact with your child on a daily basis. I tell stories using daily situations to make my child understand what is right or wrong. Give them situations through interesting stories and ask them to give you solutions.
E.g. Once upon a time, there was a girl called Radha, she loved to play at her friend, Sonia’s house everyday. Her daddy was a very nice and gave them chocolates everyday. One day, Sonia’s daddy asked Radha to sit on his lap, what should Radha do?
Focus on making your child clever
Bookish knowledge will not help. Good grades won’t come to your child’s rescue. Presence of mind will. Focus on giving your child tasks and situations that will teach them to wriggle out of sticky situations.
E.g. One day, Radha and Sonia were playing with Amey’s toys. While playing catch, one of the toys broke, Amey’s elder sister got very angry and said she will lock up all the toys and children. What will Radha, Amey and Sonia do now?
Teach your pre-schooler about Good Touch & Bad Touch
A body is a temple and needs to be treated well. While giving a bath to your child, teach them simple things about which are the places where no one except baby, Mommy or Daddy can touch only while cleaning. Tell them that doctor can touch them only when Mommy or Daddy is around.
Here are some videos that you can show your pre-schooler:
– KOMAL – A film on Child Sexual Abuse (CSA): https://youtu.be/VkY0xqtw6W8
– Safe Touch / Unsafe Touch: https://youtu.be/zNTUMNKSNwk
– A Friendly Stranger: https://youtu.be/SY7RhBszp0k
– Good Touch & Bad Touch (Hindi): https://youtu.be/l9s4fkEb4HY
– A Short Movie on Child Safety – No Touch: https://youtu.be/3T7Sox_h9Zs
– Shout Run Tell: https://youtu.be/dkraVxm8If4
Keep an eye on your preschooler’s social interactions
Yes, we do live busy lives and it could be tough to keep a track of each and every person who interacts with your child. Danger specifically lurks around crowded spaces and lonely spaces. During parties or social gatherings, be sure to keep an eye on your child. Without being intrusive, ensure that your little one is within your view. After the party, share the highlights of the evening with your child. Ask them about theirs. Vital clues may be found here.
Notice any change in behavior & work on it
Parenting is a test of your patience, maturity, and intellect. Balance in decisions is vital. The key lies in identifying a problem without getting agitated and worry about every little situation. Check for signs like consistent crying, bed wetting, sudden mood swings, irrational fears & sudden reluctance in daily interactions.
Teach your child what to do in an uncomfortable situation
We are parents, we are responsible for our children. However, the truth remains that we cannot be around our children all the time. For them to grow holistically, you need to let them be independent and teach them to cope with challenges. Teach them the Flight or Fight response in sticky situations.
E.g. Radha didn’t like the way aunty picked her up and put her on the lap. Aunty was making Radha uncomfortable. Radha shouted loudly, “NO” ….”NO – don’t touch me” and then Radha ran away to mommy/didi/papa/teacher and told them everything. (At time inject a situation where none of the safe adults are around. Guide Radha to run to a policeman or a safe adult and then call Mommy or Daddy from there).
The above are only guidelines and pointers that I am using for my children. However, as a parent, you are the best guide for your child. Do share your thoughts, tips & views on this post. I would love to hear from you.
Here are a few posts on Parenting that I wrote…
- Make Christmas Goodies with your child says TANVI SRIVASTAVA SETHI
- 15 Parenting Tips for 2017 by Basantika Bagree Sharma, ounder-KIDUCATE
- What was Aradhana Samdariya’s mother thinking?
- How to prepare your child for puberty?
- How did we train my elder son to receive his sibling?