Touch for health or safety is often not a choice.

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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 #10: Touch is NOT Always a Choice! As adults, we often forget that children are not “little adults” who understand things the way we do. Telling them that they always get to choose about touch becomes untrue when they have to get into a car seat, hold hands to cross the street, or go to the doctor. Kids are safer when they understand what is and is not their choice in different situations – and that any kind of touch or problem is never a secret. We can help them to learn with simple role plays.

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

Young people are safest when they understand what their choices truly are. If we tell children that their bodies belong to them so they can decide whether or not they are touched, we are giving
them a message that is confusing and not always true. The reality for all of us is that, although we each belong to ourselves, some things are NOT always our choice.

For kids, touch for health and safety is often not a choice. Brainstorm with a child: When is something your choice? Playing tag is your choice. Hitting someone just because you’re
mad is not your choice.

Say, “Imagine I’m a dentist cleaning your teeth. Is that touch a choice? … No, because it is
about health and safety.”

Practice by pretending to be the dentist. Put your hand on the child’s head. Ask, “Is this
type of touch a choice?” Yes. It’s about showing affection.

Say, “Imagine you didn’t want me to have my hand on your shoulder.” Coach the child to
gently and firmly remove your hand and say, “Please stop.”

As the dentist, answer, “Okay. Thank you for telling me you didn’t like that.”

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 10, 2019   |   Last Updated: April 10, 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.