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8 essential ‘body safety’ rules to keep your kids safe

3. Explain to your child who they should talk to if they feel unsafe.

8 essential ‘body safety’ rules to keep your kids safe

As they say, knowledge is power, right?

And as parents, we teach our children about water safety and road safety—we make sure they wear their life vests or puddle jumpers, that they know they must hold our hands and look both ways before crossing the street and to never touch a hot stove.

But are we taking the time to incorporate body safety into our parenting conversations? I understand, it's an intimidating topic to discuss. What should I say? How should I say it? I can't even imagine anything bad happening to my child—it's too scary to think about, etc. But avoiding it won't do anyone any good. Keeping an open line of communication can make a difference in a child's life.

The following body safety skills can be taught throughout your child's life and can be included as part of daily conversations.


1. Teach your children the proper names of their body parts.

As soon as your child begins to talk, name each body part correctly including the genitals, i.e. penis, vagina, vulva, buttocks, breasts and nipples. Explain to your child that their 'private parts' are the parts under their bathing suit. Note: a child's mouth is also known as a 'private zone'. Avoid the use of 'pet names' to describe the genitals. This way, if a child is touched inappropriately, they can clearly state where they were touched.

2. Make sure there is a clear understanding of the word 'private.'

Explain the terms 'private' and 'public', i.e. 'private' means just for you. Talk about a toilet as being a private place but the kitchen, for example, is a public space because it is shared. Relate these terms to both spaces and body parts.

3. Explain to your child who they should talk to if they feel unsafe.

Teach your child that no one has the right to touch or ask to see their private parts, and if someone does, they must tell a trusted adult straightaway. Teach your child that if someone (i.e. the perpetrator) asks them to touch their own private parts, shows their private parts to the child or shows them images of private parts that this is wrong also.

As your child becomes older (3+) help them to identify three to five trusted adults they could tell anything to and they would be believed. These people are part of their Safety Network. Note: at least one person should not be a family member.

4. Talk to your child about all different types of feelings.

At the same time as you are discussing inappropriate touch, talk about feelings. Discuss what it feels like to be happy, sad, angry, etc. Encourage your child in daily activities to talk about their feelings, e.g. 'I felt really sad when … pushed me over.' This way your child will be more able to verbalize how they are feeling if someone does touch them inappropriately.

5. Make sure they have a clear understanding of 'safe' vs. 'unsafe.'

Talk with your child about feeling 'safe' and 'unsafe'. Discuss times when your child might feel 'unsafe', e.g. being pushed down a steep slide; or 'safe', e.g. snuggled up on the couch reading a book with you. It is important children understand the different emotions that come with feeling 'safe' and 'unsafe'.

6. Discuss what it feels like to feel unsafe.

Discuss your child's Early Warning Signs when they feel unsafe, i.e. heart racing, feeling sick in the tummy, sweaty palms, etc. Let them come up with some ideas of their own. Tell your child that they must tell you or a person on their Safety Network if any of their Early Warning Signs occur. Reinforce that you will always believe them and that they can tell you anything.

7. Discourage secret keeping.

Talk about 'happy surprises' instead such as not telling Granny about her surprise birthday party. Compare this with 'unsafe' secrets such as someone touching their private parts. Make sure your child knows that if someone does ask them to keep an unsafe secret that they must tell someone on their Safety Network straightaway.

8. Empower your child to speak up if something feels wrong.

Discuss with your child when it is appropriate for someone to touch their private parts, e.g. a doctor when they are sick (but making sure they know you must be in the room). Explain that if someone does touch their private parts (without you there) that they have the right to say, 'No!' or 'Stop!' and outstretch their arm and hand.

Reinforce to your child that they are the 'boss of their body' and they do not have to kiss or hug a person if they don't want to. Explain that we all have a 'body boundary'. This is an invisible space that surrounds our body, and that no one can enter another person's body boundary unless they allow it.

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After 4 kids, this is still the best baby gear item I’ve ever purchased

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work.

I have four kids 8 and under, so you might expect that my house is teeming with baby gear and kid toys.

But it turns out that for me, the more kids I have, the more I simplify our stuff. At this point, I'm down to the absolute essentials, the gear that I can't live without and the toys my kids actually play with. And so when a mama-to-be asks me what things are worth registering for, there are only a few must-haves on my list.

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer seat is on the top of my list—totally worth it and an absolute must-have for any new mama.

In fact, since I first splurged on my first BABYBJÖRN bouncer eight years ago (it definitely felt like a splurge at the time, but the five star reviews were really compelling), the bouncer seat has become the most-used product in our house for baby's first year.

We've actually invested in a second one so that we didn't have to keep moving ours from the bedroom to the living room when we change locations.

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The utility of the seat might seem counterintuitive—it has no mechanical parts, so your baby is instead gently bounced by her own movements. In a world where many baby products are touted for their ability to mechanically rock baby to sleep, I get that many moms might not find the "no-motion" bouncer that compelling. But it turns out that the seat is quite reactive to baby's little kicks, and it has helped my kids to learn how to self-soothe.

$200

Lightweight + compact:

The BABYBJÖRN bouncer is super lightweight, and it also folds flat in a second. Because of those features, we've frequently stored it under the couch, in a suitcase or in the back of the car. It folds completely flat, which I love.

Entertainment zone:

Is the toy bar worth it? The toy bar is totally worth it. Not only is the toy bar adorable, but it's one of the first toys that my babies actually play with once they discover the world beyond my boobs. The toys spin and are close to eye level so they have frequently kept my baby entertained while I cook or take a quick shower.

Great style:

This is not a small detail to me–the BABYBJÖRN bouncer is seriously stylish. I am done with baby gear and toys that make my house look like a theme park. The elegant European design honestly just looks good in my living room and I appreciate that parents can enjoy it as much as baby.

It's adjustable:

With three height settings that let you prop baby up to be entertained, or lay back to rest, we get years of use. And the bouncer can actually be adjusted for bigger kids and used from newborn to toddler age. It's that good.

It just works:

I wouldn't be swooning over the BABYBJÖRN bouncer after eight years and four kids if it didn't work. But I have used the seat as a safe space to put baby while I've worked (I once rocked my baby in it with my foot while I reported on a breaking news story for the Washington Post), and as a cozy spot for my second child to lay while his big brother played nearby. It's held up for almost a decade with almost-constant use.

So for me, looking back on what I thought was a splurge eight years ago, was actually one of the best investments in baby gear I ever made.

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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