Mothers are exceptionally worried about sexual assault these days as we hear more stories happening at schools and sporting clubs. Mothers are worried that their children might get subjected to an assault either by an adult or even a child that was previously abused. In an attempt to eliminate this potential risk, mothers reach out to experts, attend courses, and try to raise their children’s awareness through stories and games.
But what if all of a sudden the school’s administration informed you that your 6-year-old child sexually harassed his/her friends? In other words, the child asks his/her peers to reveal their private body parts or tries to touch their genitals. Judging, labeling, or punishing these children will only make the problem worse.
At the end of the day, they are children who should be positively disciplined after digging deep for the reason behind such behavior. We interviewed our Certified Positive Discipline Educator, Rana Hany to help us understand such behaviors and how to deal with them.
Rule number 1: Don’t panic
According to Dr. Hany, a mother tends to defend her child in similar situations; however, a wise mother has to cooperate with the school in solving the problem for the sake of her child. “I understand that any mother would panic. However, she shouldn’t project this energy to her child or scare him in any way,” the parenting expert pointed out.
Hany added that the most important thing is to understand that this is an innocent way to discover body parts, which is normal at that age. The mother can help by asking the child questions and giving him the room to express himself. Questions have to include:
- Where do you know these games from?
- Who introduced you to this game?
- Were you forced to play this game?
Hany warned of labeling the child or threatening him that he would get expelled from school as a consequence.
Sex education is the key
After making sure that the behavior was derived from natural curiosity, Hany advises mothers to start explaining to the child the concept of body privacy. “It starts with educating the children about the privacy of their own bodies and how to protect them. In turn, they understand others’ privacy and that they don’t have the right to invade it.”
Starting at the age of 3, we can introduce the concept to children using the swimming suit rule.
- Body parts that are covered by the swimming suit shouldn’t be revealed to others.
- They shouldn’t see the body parts of their friends that are covered by the swimming suit.
- If this happened accidentally, they should look the other way.
Starting the age of 7, similar behavior by a child who was introduced to the body privacy concept is a warning sign that requires a consultant. This could mean that the child has experienced an incident as sexual assault, inappropriate content on television, or saw his parents in an intimate position.
The mother must look for these signs:
- If the child insists to play such games only and continuously raises this topic.
- If the child seeks to play in such a way with younger children because they can easily follow him.
- If he forces other children to play with him even after his parents asked him to stop.
When children ask questions about sensitive issues that require sexual education, Hany warned of ignoring them or scolding the children for asking. “This raises their curiosity and makes them want to explore this world in a negative way,” the parenting expert further explained.
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