Parenting Tips, Info, & Advice
The #1 Thing You Can Do To Protect Your Kids
In my work promoting and speaking about child sexual abuse prevention strategies, I often get asked what the key things are that parents can do to keep their children safer.
When I turn the question around in response to see what parents think, I hear all sorts of answers from “never let them out of the parent’s sight” to “regularly screen online for registered offenders.”
Unfortunately, neither of these will do the trick: first, many sex offenders or would-be-offenders will never be found on an online registry. Second, never letting our children out of our sight is both unrealistic and unhealthy for parent and child alike.
But there is one thing every parent can do to keep their children safer. It’s easy (trust me!), it’s free (or nearly so):
Talk to your children about their bodies, sex, and sexuality.
That’s it…it’s that simple.
Having spoken with sex offenders and read their statements and reports, and studied their patterns, what is abundantly clear is prospective offenders don’t like well-informed children.
In other words, the MORE a child knows about their own bodies, the better they understand (in an age-appropriate way) what sex is and that it is for grown-ups, and the better an understanding they have of basic safety tools, the LESS likely it is that a predator will target them.
It’s that simple.
Children with open lines of communication with their safe adults are safer.
But we know that even with that motivation, many parents still struggle to talk to kids about sex. Here are three simple tips to get you started:
- The earlier you start, the easier it is—but it’s never too late. As soon as you start naming body parts for your baby you can make sure to correctly name all their body parts. It’s no longer just head, shoulders, knees, and toes…they also need to know vulva, testicles, clitoris, scrotum, and more. This may seem difficult, but they’re just body parts. Don’t let the baggage we all have around these body parts make this harder than it needs to be.
- Books are your friend and can make it easy to get the conversation going. Savvy Parents Safe Kids has a wide list of recommended resources and reading—check it out! The book “It’s Not the Stork” is for children as young as age 4 and introduces these “scary” topics in a really calm, connecting, and easy way for children and parents alike.
- If you need help, reach out! Not only do I offer coaching around this issue, there is a full module on this inside The Heartful Parent Academy. Another great resource is my good friend and colleague Amy Lang over at Birds+Bees+Kids.
I know…you may not have been raised by parents who talked openly and honestly about bodies and sex.
I wasn’t either.
And without a great role model on this, it can feel daunting and much easier to push this off to next week, next month, next year, or never.
But knowing your reason—protecting your children—can make it easier to dive into something uncomfortable.
So, decide today that this is the week you start—or continue—the conversation in one way or another. Put it on the calendar. Commit to as easily as you would calling a friend, getting some exercise, or going to the store.
And know that HELP is here if and when you need it.
After all, we were never meant to parent alone.
Christy Keating is a certified parent coach, positive discipline educator, and motivational speaker. She is the founder and CEO of The Heartful Parent Collective, which includes Heartful Parent Coaching, Savvy Parents Safe Kids, and Heartful Parent Academy.
The mother of two amazing daughters, Christy strives to build a happier, healthier world - one child, one parent, and one family at a time.
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