Did you know that you are helping your child to build self-protective skills every day! This happens when you converse with your child; stand back while your child solves a problem themselves; when you encourage your child to ‘have-a-go’ and accept not being able to do it YET. These are ways you are supporting your child to develop their language and communication skills, self-esteem, assertion, problem-solving and resilience: key self-protective behaviours.
Why are self-protective skills important?
Parents can’t be with their children every minute of the day nor would this be healthy for them to do so as children need to feel capable and confident in their own ability as they grow and develop. However, just as young children need rules for keeping safe (e.g. road safety, fire safety, water safety), they also need to incrementally build their knowledge about Personal Safety. This broadly covers rules when dealing with people (talking, touching, feelings).
What do children need to know?
We all have the right to feel safe with people.
It’s OK to say ‘no’ if you feel unsafe or unsure.
Nothing is so yucky that you can’t tell someone about it.
(accessed at https://bravehearts.org.au/wp-content/uploads/2019/02/BraveheartsTipSheet_Teaching-kids-personal-safety.pdf)
Information is key for parents to feel comfortable in bringing up difficult topics at appropriate times. The website above and others such as the videos for parents at https://www.napcan.org.au/resources/ are useful starting points.
Children’s books such as Everyone’s got a bottom are a great conversation starter.
Another practical tool is to talk with your child about this Hand of Helper Plan and who they could talk to about a problem or secret. Some secrets are great, such as a present for mum, which could be told to dad or grandma.
Re-looking at this plan regularly, such as near birthdays, is important as some ‘fingers’ may change.