Inside: A step by step age appropriate guide to what you should say to kids about body safety rules, safe touch – unsafe touch, stranger danger, etc
Wondering how to talk to your children about body safety? What should you say to them, what are the body safety rules they should be aware of, safe touch – unsafe touch, how do you begin… at what age.
Children need to be taught not just how to keep safe but also how to take care of their bodies. We are talking about this topic today because these body safety rules can protect our children from sexual abuse and molestation.
How Parents can Keep Their Children Safe from Abuse
We need to talk to our children about their bodies and personal boundaries from an early age.
Teaching things like ‘stranger danger‘, ‘good touch and bad touch‘, ‘safe touch – unsafe touch‘, modesty and haya in dressing, wearing a hijab (when they come of age) and appropriate behavior with family and friends is essential.
It is also important that when kids come age, we guide them about puberty, adolescence and their changing bodies.
Of course, as a mother, I know that we all worry about the correct way to initiate this conversation.
How do I talk to my children about Body Safety
The Odd Muslimah has this very nice article about the ways we can talk about Safe Touch and Unsafe Touch. It is a good example of responsible parenting that I highly recommend reading.
If you are want to know about the Prophet’s way of protecting children, this article by About Islam is a good read.
Muslim Matters has these common sense tips about ways we can protect our children and prevent abuse.
Many parents are generally lost when it comes to the topic of sexual education for children. There is that sense of shame or our own shyness and of course, our cultural upbringing too. In most cultures, even in today’s times, bringing up topics like these is usually frowned upon.
But, we are in a different age now. No matter how uncomfortable we feel, we have to teach this to our children for their own safety and protection.
There are many among us, who are migrants or expats – living away from home and therefore,unable to have family support in raising a child. In a foreign place, among strange people, it becomes even more important that we teach our children not just how to look out for their body safety, but also learn about our culture.
Most parents wait till their child is of school going age to initiate the topic about ‘good touch – bad touch’ which is not the correct way, actually…
There is also that thinking that only girls need to be “protected”. Many parents think that their boys are quite safe and don’t need this education. We only teach them how to behave towards others, but not about how and why they should protect themselves too.
There are just so many things to talk about… but to begin with, we need to address the topic of personal space and teaching children the rules regarding their body.
I have invited a guest today to help me talk about Body Safety Rules for Muslim Children. Her name is Kifayah Ajibade-Bakare. She is the founder of Deen Love Kids Club and has created a resource for parents to educate Muslim children about Body safety.
The advice below is by Kifaya. I hope you find it beneficial. Be sure to learn about her poster and video at the end of the post.
The Islamic Approach to Teaching Body Safety
From an early age, children should be taught to care for their body and as they grow older, how to keep their body safe. This would help them guard their private parts and bi ithnillah protect them from sexual abuse.
Teaching children body safety is an amanah we are tasked with as muslim parents but unfortunately, the societal evils in these times makes this important task seem even more challenging.
Concerning our parental responsibility:
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, …a man is the guardian of his family and he is responsible for them. A woman is the guardian of her husband’s home and his children and she is responsible for them… (Ṣaḥīḥ al-Bukhārī 6719, Ṣaḥīḥ Muslim 1829)
Concerning the importance of body safety:
Allah’s Messenger (ﷺ) said, “Whoever can guarantee (the chastity of) what is between his two jaw-bones and what is between his two legs (i.e. his tongue and his private parts), I guarantee Paradise for him.”
In my discussions with muslim parents, regarding teaching their kids body safety, I often hear responses on the awkwardness they feel as parents and how some don’t even know what is age appropriate or not.
I feel it is safer to tell our children too much than not to tell at all. This is so that one gets the chance to teach them first, before their peers or media does – who by the way are gaining stronger influence.
For more westernised societies, the challenge of cross gender identities makes it even more pertinent to have this discussion from early on.
Besides, we all know how predators and pedophiles are out to rob children off their innocence. Therefore, the earlier we begin teaching kids the lifelong responsibility of guarding their private parts, the better it is for them.
What is the right age to talk about Body Safety
The real question is when and how do we start as muslim parents?
Start from before they are 2 years old and begin by fostering an atmosphere of open communication where children feel free to ask questions and get honest non-judgemental answers.
Remember: Our honest answers will build the foundation upon which later discussions as they grow older would rely upon.
Before we go into the steps to teaching body safety to muslim children, I want to point out the importance of environment in fostering body safety. Your environment includes home, friends, schools and media exposure.
Body Safety Rules for Muslim Kids
The steps below serve as a guide on milestones in teaching children about body safety. It is not totally age specific, but needs to be followed based on the maturity level of a child and the information needed.
Step 1: Teach the correct names of body parts
From when a child is under the age of 2, begin by teaching actual names of body private parts.
Teach them to call their body parts by the exact names and not some funny cute names.
It can be daunting but it’s critical that toddlers know and address their private parts by their correct anatomical names. It would also help make communication easy especially when children are hurt in their private parts and help promote their body safety.
Step 2: Teach the concept of Body being an Amanah
Following your child’s familiarity with body private part names, introduce the concepts of their body being an amanah.
Amanah means trust. Our bodies are a trust from Allaah to care for and keep safe. We need to take care of it for His sake and when we do, Allaah is pleased with us bi ithnillah.
Step 3: Teach the concept of Awrah
Once the concept of amanah is understood. Next, introduce the concept of ‘awrah (concealing nakedness).
Explain to your child that private parts are our ‘awrah and should be concealed in modest clothing. Their private parts should not be seen by others except mummy or daddy for cleaning and the doctor (with parental permission) when hurt.
This is also a good time to explain gender specificity of males and females. So a girl is a girl and a boy is a boy. A girl is not a boy and a boy is not a girl.
Also introduce your daughters to hijab and explain that a woman’s awrah is her whole body except face and hands.
Step 4: Teach your Body Belongs to you alone
It is now time to set body safety boundaries.
Let your child know that his/her body belongs to him/her and not to another human being.
For example: you can now teach ‘safe and unsafe’ touches to help them identify when their boundaries are threatened.
Step 5: Discussion on reproduction
It is after the above four steps have been covered that you can now proceed to open a discussion with your child on how babies are formed and where they come from.
This step is in various stages, depending on the maturity of your child and your judgement on information needed.
Remember you want to be ahead of the game all the time, as peers and media can lay bad knowledge foundations on sex education if they get ahead of you.
These are my recommendations. Feel free to add or remove depending on your child’s needs and age.
You can never be too late in initiating the conversation about body safety
If you feel that you have delayed talking to your child about these things and have missed some steps, don’t worry. It’s better late than never!
You can start now by having an honest discussion with your child where you own up to and apologize for not sharing some knowledge on body safety earlier. Children appreciate honesty and sincerity. May Allaah ease your tasks for you, Aameen.
My Body Safety eBook for Muslim Kids + Video and Poster
To help muslim parents teach their kids body safety, I wrote “My Body Safety Ebook for Muslim Kids“. It is available at the link below.
The ebook pack comes packed with more information like
- the 6 body safety alerts to help kids spot predators and
- the 3 body safety tools every child needs.
- a video
- and poster for reinforcement of knowledge.
About the Author: Kifayah Ajibade-Bakare is the founder of Deen Love Kids Club where she teaches online deen classes in a fun way! She is wife and mom to three righteous slaves of Allaah and has a B.Sc. in Sociology. To join Deen Love Kids club click here.
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