Monday, May 16, 2011

Good and Bad Touches

The past few weeks I have been on cloud 9 planning my daughter's first birthday and all caught up in her turning a whole year old.  And I realized my posts have been all fluffy and fun but now that her birthday is over- it's back to reality and being the mom of a 1 year old!

Lately I have also been debating about taking a contract position of 1 hour a week leading a group of children who have been victims of sexual abuse. I know, heavy stuff, but it will be such a great feeling to be able to continue to help children using my play therapy skills.

The job has actually been making me think about how such deep issues such as abuse are going to make me a super protective mom now.  It has made me realize that pretty soon, I am going to have to give my child the "Good Touch, Bad Touch" talk. Ueek.

What is the Good Touch Bad Touch speech?

Before you give your child the Birds and the Bees talk, you have to give them the basic Good Touch, Bad Touch talk. It teaches your child what is normal for private parts and who can look and touch them, and who can't.

How do you do it?

First step:  You have to teach your child names for all the funny private parts that kids love to joke about.  Experts believe that when you teach your child body parts, that you should use proper terms such as 'vagina', because if you use cutesy words like 'tee tee', then they are getting the wrong message- that the parts are shameful so we have to use cute words to replace them.

Second step: Determine if your child is ready to talk about it. Usually it's when they are able to understand the vocabulary and the concepts. Every child learns at a different rate but I always say the earlier the better.

Third step: They are ready for you to go over the whole Good touch, Bad touch speech- and remember to repeat it each year so they don't forget.

Here are some Good Touch/Bad Touch Talking Points:

-Use your own words and language so it doesn't feel like a script to them

-Then discuss how their body is all theirs and no one else's.

-Go over Good touches, like giving someone a hug, sitting on their mom's lap, holding their baby sister's hand, getting tickled and laughing

-Go over Bad touches with them such as when someone hits or punches them, or pinches them, or touches them in a way that feels yucky and hurtful

-Discuss how there are parts of their body that are private, like the parts that are covered up by a swimsuit

-Then discuss the fun part, when someone wants to touch your private parts, those are Bad touches and to tell the person "No!" and run away

-Talk about how sometimes a doctor may examine their private parts but if anyone else does, to tell them "No"; That it's not okay for someone to want to look at or touch a child's private parts and it's not okay for someone else to want them to look at or touch their private parts (whether it's a child, teenager or adult because unfortunately there are perpetrators who are kids too)

-Then go over another touch, 'Secret Touches'.  Talk about if someone tells them it's a secret and tells them not to tell anyone else, say, "No!" Or if someone tells them they will be a bad child if they don't touch them or looks at their private parts, tell them "No, that is not true!" and run away

-Talk about who they can trust to tell if someone tries to do something to them. Even though policemen and teachers can usually be trusted, make sure they understand that no matter who it is asking them to do something, to make sure and tell you and not feel embarrassed, ashamed, etc.

-Make sure they also understand that at any time if they feel uncomfortable, to run, tell the person no and then come to tell you about it.

Not the most fun conversation to have but very important! Statistics say 1 out of 6 children are sexually abused, and the rate may be even higher with girls.

Here are a few good resources to help:

1)  It's My Body (Children's Safety & Abuse Prevention) is a great book to read with your child when you go over this topic:

2) The Good Touch, Bad Touch Coloring Book is also a great way to go over it with your child and it has a few pages that ask a child to give examples of who to trust, what a bad touch is, etc. I have used this a lot with my clients and they really enjoy it- makes it less awkward

Okay, not the most fun topic, but hopefully it will help some of you out there when the time comes to have the big talk! Have any of you given this talk yet? If so, how did it go?






  1. Great article. Every parent should read this and discuss with their child/children.

  2. Thanks. Yes, it is a shame we have to have this talk with children at all, but in this world, unfortunately we have to have it :(

  3. Thanks for the really great information! It reminded me of something else I read once that said to tell your kids their private parts are private *and* special so they know their body parts aren't something to be ashamed of.

    I am dreading having that conversation myself, and I am fortunate that I am not yet at that stage in time. However, I know it would have helped me so much as a kid! I vaguely remember my dad simply mentioning once that you should never let anyone else touch you "inappropriately." Whatever that meant, I had no clue. Being able to discuss it a little more in depth on an ongoing basis would have been much better for me.

    I certainly know firsthand some of the negative ramifications of not having that information as a kid. I was sexually abused as a child by two cousins--so thanks for addressing the fact that kids can be abusers, too. With the little information I had then, I thought I had done something wrong when it first happened to me (because I had "let" it happen to me) I didn't tell anyone what was going on for years. I also didn't know the proper terms to even be able to describe it when I was smaller. uncomfortable as giving "the talk" is, it's so very important!

    I think every parent wants to protect their child from all of the dangers of the world, including having to inform them of such dangers. But in the end, kids are better protected having the appropriate information (when they are developmentally ready for it) in addition to knowing you are there for them. I'm sure I will be ready to have that talk when the time comes, and just from reading your blog I know you will be too!

  4. I am glad you found my blog helpful! And I am so sorry to hear you were a victim of abuse from your child cousins! It is a vicious cycle of abuse where sometimes when children are victims of abuse they will turn around and abuse other children because they don't know any better, they were never given the good touch/bad touch talk and don't understand it. As parents we MUST educate our children and protect them on these issues. They will be better educated and prepared for situations like this and we don't want them to be victims :(

  5. I definitely agree--it is a parent's job to educate and protect their children on these issues.

    Any ideas on why some children go on to abuse others while others (and I'm assuming most) don't? After my abuse, the last thing I would ever want to do is hurt someone the way I was hurt. So I don't understand why some children go on to become abusers when they know how much it hurts firsthand.

  6. Abuse is something that we all wish would stop and we all wonder why it just doesn't end, especially if you were a victim. Since you knew it felt wrong and you know it was hurtful, it was something you did not want to happen again! Unfortunately there are child victims out there whose perpetrators (adults) groom them and almost brainwash them into thinking that it is normal and so they don't know any different and may act out on another child or friend.

    Adults that prey on children know it is wrong and I just don't understand why they keep wanting to hurt young children. Their mindset is almost like a sociopath and an addiction. It is a sad cycle that I wish would end :(

    It sounds like you have gotten the healing you need and that is a great thing! Unfortunately it is much more common than we realize, 1 in 6 and some say 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused. As long as we educate children and the victims get the counseling they need, then that is at least a start.