Games like tag are fun as long as everybody wants to play.

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April is Child Abuse Prevention Month. As part of our global efforts to help protect kids from abuse, bullying, and other harmful behavior, each day this month, we will share a time-tested skill from our Kidpower® 30-Skill-Challenge Coaching Handbook.

Skill #11: It’s OK to Say “No” to Unwanted Hugs or Tickling. Because they don’t want to upset family or friends, kids too often endure unwanted hugs, kisses, tickling, cheek-pinching, or roughhousing. This is why the Kidpower Consent and Boundaries Safety Checklist is so helpful. The rules are that: touch or play for fun or affection should be: 1) Safe; 2) The choice of each person; 3) Allowed by the adults in charge; and 3) NOT a secret so their adults can know. Here’s an easy role play to help children understand.

This full practice is a part of the Kidpower® 30-Skill-Challenge Coaching Handbook.

Young people are safer if they know when touch is their choice and when it is not.

With a child, explain, “Touch or games for play, fun, or affection, which means showing you care about someone, should be a choice and OK with each person.
Any touch or game should also be safe, allowed by the adults in charge, and NOT a secret.”

To practice, pretend to tickle (or play tag, roughhouse, thumb wrestle, or another game that involves touch) together. Pretend – don’t really touch – so you can keep focusing on the skill.

Ask, “If we both like this, is it okay?” Wait for a yes response and agree, “Yes, because we both like it.”

Ask, “But, what if you wanted to stop?” Coach the youth to step back, make a fence, and say, “Please stop.”

Ask, “Should I keep doing this if you want me to stop?” Wait for a no response. Correct! Pretend again and ask, “Would it be okay for us to do this in the middle of the street?”

Wait for a no response. “That’s right. That’s not safe.”

Say, “Touch for fun also needs to be allowed by the adults in charge. What if we wanted to do this during a class. Would that be okay?” Wait for a no response and add: “You are right. It wouldn’t be allowed by the teacher, who is the adult in charge.”.

Ask, “And, what if I wanted to keep this a secret from my adults? Would that be safe?”

Wait for or coach a no response and then add: “No, because touch or games, even for
fun, should NOT have to be a secret.”

For a FREE explanation on the simple methods you can use to teach children to use each of these skills, download the Kidpower® 30-Skill-Challenge Coaching Handbook on our website –this ebook will be FREE of charge in English, Spanish, and Arabic in honor of April as Child Abuse Prevention Month.

Please share this skill with others. Let’s work together to teach young people to take charge of their safety, increase self-confidence, and develop healthy, positive relationships! 

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Published: April 11, 2019   |   Last Updated: April 11, 2019

Kidpower Founder and Executive Irene van der Zande is a master at teaching safety through stories and practices and at inspiring others to do the same. Her child protection and personal safety expertise has been featured by USA Today, CNN, Today Moms, the LA Times, and The Wall Street Journal. Publications include: cartoon-illustrated Kidpower Safety Comics and Kidpower Teaching Books curriculum; Bullying: What Adults Need to Know and Do to Keep Kids Safe; the Relationship Safety Skills Handbook for Teens and Adults; Earliest Teachable Moment: Personal Safety for Babies, Toddlers, and Preschoolers; The Kidpower Book for Caring Adults: Personal Safety, Self-Protection, Confidence, and Advocacy for Young People, and the Amazon Best Seller Doing Right by Our Kids: Protecting Child Safety at All Levels.