Teaching good touch / bad touch at an early age

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good touch / bad touch

If you ask someone if they got unwanted sexual attention during childhood. Most men will say no. And some women would eventually say that they did. But when you change that question to “Were you ever touched as a child in a way you didn’t want to be touched?” The honest answer would invariably become yes.

Children know what their comfort level is. But in our community when they first try to assert their boundaries, it is instantly dismissed by surrounding adults. More often by their own parents.

What happens when an auntie wants to enthusiastically kiss a child when she comes over, or an uncle wants to hug when saying goodbye, and the child does not come forward? Mummy or Papa will tell them to not be rude. Push them forward. And tell them to go give auntie a kiss.

Children know what their comfort level is. But in our community when they first try to assert their boundaries, it is instantly dismissed by surrounding adults. More often by their own parents.

teach consent earlySounds innocent. But this behavior, in the name of manners, does more damage than good for the benefit of the youth. Especially when repeated over and over again.

What damages does the child incur when their brief protest is brushed off?

  • You are telling the child that they don’t have agency.
  • You teach the child that they should expect their boundaries to be violated.
  • You teach them consent is not required.
  • You are telling the child that they should be the one to feel uncomfortable. To make others comfortable.
  • You lower their self worth.
  • You are shaming them.

Why teaching good touch and bad touch is so important? Because there is a chance that the child may be around an adult (or an older child) that the parent may trust. But they have bad intentions. This is a recipe for a life altering trauma.

Even in milder cases, not letting the child determine how they want physical interaction to go can have negative effects. They may not know how tell a bully to stop picking on them. Or in a romantic relationship they may not be able to tell their partner that they don’t want to reciprocate their sexual advances. On the other end, they may get hyper alert and will refuse all physical interaction.

I know responsible guardians do not want this for their child’s life.

There are some things that children need to be told to do. Many of them they may not like. It is okay to be stern with what time to play or do homework. It should be the adult that decides what is healthy food and what is not. Children should also be told the difference between appropriate and inappropriate. But at the cost of what we believe to be good manners, we should not compromise the importance of a young child developing physical boundaries.

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