Develop confidence with your youth online – Internet + Media Mini-edu Session

The CASASC education team would like to share some mini-edu lessons about Internet safety and media literacy over the coming weeks for parents and their children.

Respect is very important to our organization and learning how to be respectful in the digital world will help youth become more empowered and informed citizens. They will be better able to problem solve and safely explore what is going on online. Below is a question a parent asked us during our last Social Media Takeover.

Parent Question: How do I set rules or expectations for my youth’s Internet usage? How can I monitor what they are doing online to make sure it is appropriate?

CASASC Response:

Wow, what great questions.

Parents naturally want to be aware of what their children are interested in and what they are viewing online. Research suggests that youth do want their parents to help set expectations and guide them to know what right or wrong behaviour is. Students whose parents set up boundaries and instill values of being respectful online were more than thirty three percent less likely to be rude or mean to others online (1)

The Canadian website MediaSmarts has many resources to help parents and youth develop more confidence regarding internet usage. MediaSmarts suggests the following tips to help develop rules and expectations around Internet use:

  1. Be judgement free and have open communication

When your child knows they can talk to you about anything without judgement, they are more likely to come to you when they have a problem online. Sixty six percent of youth who came to their parent with an online issue felt better afterwards (1)

  1. Explain the reasoning behind a rule or expectation

When youth know why you are setting an expectation or rule, they feel better about following them. For example, you may say no devices in the bedroom at night, or no being online after 10 pm, because research shows youth need sleep in order to physically grow and be mentally, emotionally and academically well (2)

  1. Make Respect, or the Golden Rule, the highest expectation

When respect — treating others how you wish to be treated — is the highest expectation while being online, youth are more likely to think about what they post or say online and share what they expect of others online. This creates a safer online environment for them.

When it comes to knowing what your children are doing online, the best way to find out is to ask them. Have them show and explain the social media and websites they are using. Set aside a time to look online together. This will not only let you see what your child is doing online, but it will also help you feel more connected to your child and increase quality family time together.

 

  1. https://mediasmarts.ca/sites/default/files/guides/ywca-guide-for-trusted-adults.pdf
  2. https://www.caringforkids.cps.ca/handouts/behavior-and-development/screen-time-and-digital-media

Ask An Educator – Social Media Takeover

Join us on Friday across all of our social media platforms for Ask An Educator – a question and answer session all day long.

It’s a social media takeover to answer all of your questions like: have you ever wondered why we hear about sexting all the time? What’s the big deal around consent? What is a positive spin on relationships that I can talk with my kids/family/friends about? Now is your chance to find out.

Our prevention and community educators will be available from 9 a.m. on to answer your questions on things related to sexual violence, dating, healthy relationships, sexting, the digital world, consent and much more.

Ask questions on Facebook (@CASASCRD), Twitter (@CASASC2), Instagram (@CASASC3) and via email education@casasc.ca

At 3 p.m. we will be going live on Instagram (@CASASC3) for a special edition of Coffee Chat with CASASC. Tune in and let’s connect through out the day.

Servus Credit Union supports No Secrets

The Central Alberta Sexual Assault Support Centre (CASASC) recently received a donation from Servus Credit Union.

CASASC Community Support Services Coordinator Carlia Schwab (left) accepted the $3,000 donation from Servus Credit Union North Hill Branch Manager Vangi Willington on Nov. 6.

The donation to CASASC will be used towards program materials for the new No Secrets classroom activity box.

No Secrets is a personal safety program for children ages 5 to 9 (Kindergarten to Grade 4) with a focus on child sexual abuse prevention. No Secrets provides a forum from which children can discuss safe and unsafe touching, body parts including private areas, feelings and who you can tell. In 2019, No Secrets was presented to over 13,000 students in Central Alberta.

CASASC recognizes Orange Shirt Day

CASASC recognizes September 30th as Orange Shirt Day. This is a day we acknowledge the impacts residential schooling has had on Indigenous people in Canada, the United States, Australia, and New Zealand. It is a way to commemorate the residential school experience, honour the healing that survivors and their families have and continue to go through, remember the children who did not make it home, and begin conversations around healing and reconciliation that have previously not taken place. 

Sept 30th was picked to recognize Orange Shirt Day as the day when Indigenous children would be taken and sent to residential schooling for most of the school year, sometimes into the summer. This day helps to reaffirm that every child matters. 

CASASC staff wore the orange Made to Respect t-shirt on Sept. 30th as a visual symbol of our awareness of the need for ongoing reconciliation. We are working to foster respect and mutual understanding with all Indigenous people and communities.

CASASC recognizes that we are situated on Treaty 7 land to the south of the Red Deer river, the traditional territory of the Blackfoot, Tsuu T’ina and Stoney Nakoda peoples, and that the Central Alberta region we serve falls under Treaty 6 traditional Métis, Cree and Saulteaux territory to the north of the Red Deer River. We honour the First Peoples (First Nations, Metis, Inuit) who have lived here since time immemorial, and we give thanks for the land we reside on

Story Time

CASASC educators read two stories in a special edition of CASASC Story Time on Sept. 30th.

“As educators, we reaffirm the statement that every child matters,” they said. “We are here today to read some stories related to Indigenous children’s experiences with residential schooling and encourage you to seek further information about the experiences of Indigenous people. At the end of the stream, we will recommend some resources you can seek out.”

You can watch the Orange Shirt Day edition of Story Time here

Resources:  

Orangeshirtday.org 

Trc.ca– truth and reconciliation commission’s website with all 91 recommendations

How to deal with bullies Pt. 1 – Topics For Parents Mini-edu Session

There are many different types of bullying that can be experienced by children and adults alike. Some are obvious to spot while others can be more subtle. The different types of bullying that we look at below are some of the ways that bullying could be happening:

Physical bullying:

Physical bullying includes hitting, kicking, tripping, pinching and pushing or damaging property. Physical bullying causes both short-term and long-term damage.

Verbal bullying:

Verbal bulling includes name calling, insults, teasing, intimidation, homophobic or racist remarks, or verbal abuse. While verbal bullying can start off harmless, it can escalate to levels which start affecting the individual target.

Social bullying:

Social bullying, sometimes referred to as covert bullying, is often harder to recognize and can be carried out behind the bullied person’s back. It is designed to harm someone’s social reputation and/or cause humiliation.

Social bullying can include:

  • Lying and spreading rumours
  • Negative facial or physical gestures, menacing or contemptuous looks
  • Playing nasty jokes to embarrass and humiliate
  • Mimicking unkindly
  • Encouraging others to socially exclude someone
  • Damaging someone’s social reputation or social acceptance.

Cyber-bulling:

The Cyber Bullying Research Centre defines cyber bullying as: the intentional and repeated harm inflicted through the use of computers, phones, and other electronic devices.

Cyber bullying can be overt or covert bullying behaviours using digital technologies including hardware such as computers and smartphones, and software such as social media, instant messaging, texts, websites and other online platforms.

Cyber bullying can happen at any time. It can be in public or in private and sometimes only known to the target and the person bullying.

Cyber bullying can include:

  • Abusive or hurtful texts, emails or posts, images or videos
  • Deliberately excluding others online
  • Nasty gossip or rumours
  • Imitating others online or using their log-in.

Bullying Is Meant to Hurt

Verbal bullying is different from teasing. It’s not done to make friends, or to relate to someone. Just the opposite: The goal is to embarrass the victim and make the bully look better and stronger.

The tricky thing is that bullying may start out as teasing. But when it’s done over and over and is meant to be hurtful or threatening, it becomes bullying.

Verbal bullying includes calling a victim names, taunting and sexual harassment. It can happen in person, through texting, and online through social media and email.

Bullying also involves an imbalance of power. Bullying victims usually don’t provoke it. Rather, kids may not be able to defend themselves because of their physical size, or because of their social position in school or in a group. And if a victim gets upset, bullies typically don’t stop. The bullying may even get worse.

Unlike kids who are being bullied, kids who are being teased can influence whether it continues or ends. If they get upset, the teaser usually stops.

Sometimes, kids who are trying to tease end up bullying. For example, a child may say something mean-spirited to another, thinking it’s playful. This can lead to an argument. Or a child may react angrily to a comment that’s friendly, which may cause other kids to keep their distance.

To address these struggles, it’s important to teach kids about the rules of conversation. Help kids sort out when teasing is okay and when it becomes hurtful or borders on bullying. One way to do this is by role-playing with them. This lets kids practice a situation where they get teased, don’t like it, and need to respond.

Questions to Ask Kids About Teasing:

Maybe you’ve heard that kids are teasing your child or your student at school. You can ask a few questions to see whether it’s good-natured or harmful:

  • Are the kids who tease you your friends?
  • Do you like when they tease you?
  • Do you tease them back?
  • If you told them to stop teasing, would they?
  • If you told them that they hurt your feelings, what would they say sorry?

If the answer to any of these questions is “no” or “I don’t know,” then it may be a case of negative teasing or even bullying. It’s important to find out more.

References:

ncab.org.au

understood.org

Signs that a child may have been sexually abused – Topics For Parents Mini-edu Session

Every nine minutes, the American government authorities respond to another report of child sexual abuse. Child sexual abuse can include sexual contact with a child, but it may also include other actions, like exposing oneself, sharing obscene images, or taking inappropriate photos or videos of a child.

These crimes can have a serious impact on the life and development of a child, and often continue to impact them later in life. Learning the warning signs of child sexual abuse is often the first step to protecting a child who is in danger.

Signs that a child may have been sexually abused:

It’s not always easy to spot sexual abuse because perpetrators often take steps to hide their actions. Some signs are easier to spot than others. For instance, some warning signs might be noticed by a caretaker or parent and are often red flags that the child needs medical attention.

Listen to your instincts. If you notice something that isn’t right or someone in a child’s life is making you uncomfortable — even if you can’t put your finger on why — it’s important to trust your gut, continue to watch for signs of abuse, and talk to the child who may be experiencing abuse in age-appropriate ways.

Warning signs:

Physical signs:

  • Sexually transmitted infections (STIs)
  • Signs of trauma to the genital area, such as unexplained bleeding, bruising, or blood on the sheets, underwear, or other clothing

Behavioral signs:

  • Excessive talk about or knowledge of sexual topics
  • Keeping secrets, not talking as much as usual
  • Not wanting to be left alone with certain people or being afraid to be away from primary caregivers, especially if this is a new behavior
  • Regressive behaviors or resuming behaviors they had grown out of, such as thumb sucking or bedwetting
  • Overly compliant behavior
  • Sexual behavior that is inappropriate for the child’s age
  • Spending an unusual amount of time alone
  • Trying to avoid removing clothing to change or bathe

Emotional signs:

  • Change in eating habits
  • Change in mood or personality, such as increased aggression
  • Decrease in confidence or self-image
  • Excessive worry or fearfulness
  • Increase in unexplained health problems such as stomach aches and headaches
  • Loss or decrease in interest in school, activities, and friends
  • Nightmares or fear of being alone at night
  • Self-harming behaviors

This list may seem overwhelming to keep in mind when looking out for a child in your life, and some signs seem to contradict each other, such as being overly compliant or oppositional, or showing regressive behaviors or advanced sexual behaviors.

The most important thing to keep in mind when looking for signs of child sexual abuse is to keep an eye on sudden changes in behavior. Trust your gut and don’t ignore your feelings if something seems off. If a child tells you that someone makes them uncomfortable, even if they can’t tell you anything specific, listen.

Signs that an adult may be hurting a child

Keeping children safe can be challenging because many perpetrators who sexually abuse children are in positions of trust—93 percent of child sexual assault victims know the perpetrator. This includes family members, members of faith communities, coaches, teachers, and other helping professionals.

Be cautious of an adult who spend time with children and exhibits the following behaviors:

  • Does not respect boundaries or listen when someone tells them “no”
  • Engages in touching that a child or child’s parents/guardians have indicated is unwanted
  • Tries to be a child’s friend rather than filling an adult role in the child’s life
  • Does not seem to have age-appropriate relationships
  • Talks with children about their personal problems or relationships
  • Spends time alone with children outside of their role in the child’s life or makes up excuses to be alone with the child
  • Expresses unusual interest in child’s sexual development, such as commenting on sexual characteristics or sexualizing normal behaviors
  • Gives a child gifts without occasion or reason
  • Spends a lot of time with your child or another child you know
  • Restricts a child’s access to other adults

Taking action isn’t easy, but it’s important

It’s not always easy to identify child sexual abuse — and it can be even more challenging to step in if you suspect something isn’t right. Keeping a child away from the perpetrator may mean major changes in your own life, even if you are outside of the child’s family.

If something seems off, pay attention to that feeling and look into it further. If a child tells you that someone makes them uncomfortable, even if they can’t tell you anything specific, listen. Reach out to local sexual assault services providers.

Even if you were not sure but you have a feeling that there is something wrong going on you can always call child and family services and ask them or report anonymously.

 This information was collected from and is attributed to RAINN.ORG

The healing power of Yoga: A kids’ perspective

When we shift from focusing on “fixing” the child to “connecting” with the child, we create a safe space that allows them to discover skills that support healing.

The yoga experience allows us to connect through presence, excitement and mindful care, all the while creating the space for children’s own bodies and minds to do the amazing things they were made to do.

When children have been abused, their bodies shut down in a completely different way. Child sexual abuse indicators can include:

  • Sudden sensual fear, panic or reluctancy to be alone with certain persons
  • Sudden fear of places or locations
  • Regressive behaviors
  • Compulsive lying or stealing
  • Unexplained evidence of physical trauma to genitals
  • Not sleeping/nightmares

Yoga can help children get back into their bodies without being afraid. There are many techniques we can use when children have gone through trauma:

Keep it simple – Demonstrate first and find the simplest variation of the pose for them to start from. Be sensitive to the children’s needs. Allow them to relax whenever they need to and make the class short enough for them to be able to keep their attention focused without tiring.

Breath – Help them to breathe more deeply and learn how to control and be aware of their breath through a variety of breathing exercises.

Success builds success – Always focus on the children’s strengths, as a weakness in one area often creates strength in another. If we start where it is easy for that child, they will gain confidence and slowly respond to more challenging areas. We never begin by attempting to work on the ‘issue’ first.

Sometimes I give squishy balls to children with special needs to keep squeezing while they are lying down. This helps them to keep the rest of their body still. Heavy blankets also work well.

Sensory bags are great for autistic children or even for shy children. They feel safe inside, and the contact from all sides is very comforting.

When working with children who have been abused in some way, we must make the space inviting and not scary for them. We allow them be their own guide in the class and invite them to do the poses they feel comfortable with. There is no touch/adjusting in class. If the child wants to lay down the whole time, that is fine, as that is what their body is telling them to do. Yoga is an invitation for the body and the mind. We need to hold space for children who have undergone a trauma, and in class, that is what we can do.

*All information is from the Teaching Rainbow Kids Yoga Training Manual.

What sexual behavior in young children is normal? – Topics For Parents Mini-edu Session

It can be easy for parents to talk with their children about the differences between right and wrong, but it is often more difficult for parents to talk with their children about sexual development.

At a very young age, children begin to explore their bodies by touching, poking, pulling and rubbing their body parts, including their genitals. As children grow older, they will need guidance in learning about these body parts and their functions.

Based on the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) these are few tips to help you tell what normal sexual behavior is and what is NOT

WHAT IS NORMAL?

 These are normal common sexual behaviors for two years old through to age six.

  • Touching/masturbating genitals in public or private.
  • Looking at or touching a peer’s or new sibling’s genitals.
  • Showing genitals to peers.
  • Standing or sitting too close to someone.
  • Trying to see peers/adults naked.
  • Behaviors are transient, few and distractible.

When you see these behaviors, try to redirect your child’s attention to something more appropriate. Maybe say something like “grown-ups do this in private, you should do that too.” Always remind your child and encourage them to respect others. Reinforce it is NOT okay to touch anybody else’s private parts, as well as encourage them to tell you or a trusted adult if anyone has ever touched their private parts.

WHAT IS LESS COMMON NORMAL BEHAVIOR?

  • Rubbing body against others.
  • Trying to insert tongue in mouth while kissing.
  • Touching peer/adult genitals.
  • Crude mimic of movements associated with sexual acts.
  • Sexual behaviors that are occasionally, but persistently/disruptive to others.
  • Behaviors are transient and moderately responsive to distraction.

WHAT ARE UNCOMMON BEHAVIORS IN NORMAL CHILDREN?

  • Asking peer/adults to engage in specific sexual acts.
  • Inserting objects into genitals.
  • Explicit imitation of intercourse.
  • Touching animal genitals.
  • Sexual behaviors that are frequently/disruptive to others.
  • Behaviors that are persistent and resistant to parental distraction.

WHAT IS RARELY NORMAL?  

  • Any sexual behaviors involving children who are four or more years apart.
  • A variety of sexual behaviors displayed on the daily basis.
  • Sexual behavior that results in emotional distress or physical pain.
  • Sexual behaviors associated with other physically aggressive behavior.
  • Sexual behaviors that involve coercion.
  • Behaviors are persistent and child becomes angry if distracted.

RED FLAG BEHAVIORS

Parents also need to know when child’s sexual behavior appears more than harmless curiosity. Sexual behavior problems may pose a risk to the safety and well-being your child and other children and can signal physical or sexual abuse or exposure to sexual activity.

NOTE: the information provided above, was adapted from the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) clinical report, evaluation of sexual behaviors in children, and should not be used in isolation to determine if a child has been sexually abused.

SEXUAL BEHAVIOR PROBLEMS IN YOUNG CHILDREN ICLUDE ANY ACT THAT:

  • Occurs frequently and cannot be redirected.
  • Causes emotional or physical pain or injury to themselves or others.
  • Is associated with physical aggression.
  • Involved coercion or force.
  • Simulates adult sexual acts.

BODY SAFETY TEACHING TIPS FOR PARENTS:

Parents should start teaching their children about body safety between the ages of 3-5.

-Use appropriate language: teach children the proper names for all their body parts, including their private parts such as penis, vagina, breasts and buttocks. ALWAYS include lips as a private part because NO ONE should kiss them on their lips, even parents need to ask before they give their child a “good night” kiss. You should know that children learn from what they see, so if you as a parent respect your child’s physical boundaries (personal bubble) they will follow your steps and start respecting other people’s boundaries.

-Making up names for their body parts may give the idea that there is something bad about the proper name. Understand why your child has a special name for their body part but teach the proper name, too. Also, teach your child which parts are private (bathing suit area).

Evaluate your family’s respect for modesty: while modesty isn’t a concept most young children can fully grasp; you can still use this age to lay a foundation for future discussions and model good behavior. If you have children of various ages, for example, it’s important to teach your younger children to give older siblings their privacy.

Usually, older siblings will teach the younger ones to get their clothes on, for example, because they might have friends over or because they are maturing and feel modest even in front of their younger brothers and sisters.

-Don’t force affection: Do not force your children to give hugs or kisses to people they do not want to. It is their right to tell even grandma or grandpa that they do not want to give them a kiss or a hug goodbye. Inappropriate touching — especially by a trusted adult — can be very confusing to a child. Constantly reinforce the idea that their body is their own, and they can protect it.

It is very important that your child knows to tell you or another trusted grown-up if they have been touched. That way, your child knows it’s also your job to protect them.

Explain what a safe/unsafe touch is: Make sure to use the proper language. Do not use the words “good/bad” because although some touches feel good, they are unsafe and uncomfortable. You can explain a “safe touch” as a way for people to show they care for each other and help each other (i.e., hugging, holding hands, changing a baby’s diaper).

An “unsafe touch” is the kind you don’t like and want it to stop right away (i.e., hitting, kicking, or touching private parts). Reassure your child that most touches are okay touches, but that they should say “NO” and need to tell you about any touches that are confusing or that scare them. Make sure to teach your child that they own their bodies, that means that if they did not feel like a hug or a kiss, they can always say no and its okay to say NO.

This information was gathered from Healthychildren.org

Help, my child accidentally saw pornography online – Topics for Parents Mini-edu Session

In a study posted by Shared Hope International, 42% of Internet users age 10-17 years old admit to viewing online pornography. Before getting too concerned, consider that 66% of these children reported that they viewed this material accidentally while attempting to access age-appropriate programs. This begs the conversation to parents and caregivers: How do we protect our children and if they do view pornography, how do we respond?

Parents sometimes wonder if their child will be traumatized from the exposure. While prolonged exposure to pornography can elicit negative emotional responses, the greater potential for harm and shame can come from a parent’s reaction. The best course of action a parent can take is to address the behavior in an age-appropriate manner, being careful not to overreact.

Educating your child on the risks of inappropriate, adult content online should include discussions on sexuality and Internet safety. So, what does the conversation around Internet pornography look like between parent and child?

1)Start early:

A conversation with your teenager about accessing online pornography is going to go a lot smoother if you’ve already established a language around sexuality with age-appropriate conversations in their elementary and middle school years.

2)Stay calm:

Being upset will make your child worried that they are in trouble. Stay calm and thank your child for being brave enough to let you know and reassure your child that you will sort it out together.

3)Just listen:

If your child has accidentally stumbled upon explicit content, ask them to tell you about how they found it. Ask them how they located it on their device. This will help you know how you can improve security measures. Find out where it happened, who (if anyone) showed it to them, how they felt when they saw it, and what they viewed. Remember, understand rather than reprimand.

4)Reassure your child that they are not in any trouble:

Avoid punishment. This will hurt your relationship. It will also reduce the likelihood your child will come to you about tricky issues in the future. Don’t take their device from them immediately or they’ll feel punished. That may come later, but for now, be calm and let them know they’re not in trouble.

Remember, your child may be upset about finding pornography, or if they were searching around curiously, even a little traumatized that it was more explicit than they could have imagined. We need to be supportive and understanding, acknowledging how upsetting it can be to see these types of things.

Once you and your children are calm, and are able to talk things through, it is time for the pornography conversation:

You don’t have to have this conversation as soon as you discover that your child viewed pornography. The first three steps, above, are for that conversation. The following ideas are the “follow-up” talk:

5)Plan your talk:

While it is tempting to have a big lecture right there on the spot, it is better to take some time out to plan your conversation about pornography and sex before you start the discussion.

If younger children have accidentally viewed online pornography, try saying something like: “I’m sorry that showed up while you were on the computer. Those videos are intended for adults, not children. Together, let’s find some better sites for you to visit that won’t show those kinds of images. Do you have any questions?” From there, follow the child’s lead in a developmentally appropriate way.

6) Talk about how they felt:

Did watching this make your child feel good, bad, safe, scared, uncomfortable, curious, or something else? All of these feelings are normal, and children should know it’s fine to feel like that. Most children will feel a mix of curiosity and revulsion.

You can also use this as a chance to teach about real intimacy. Did what they viewed seem respectful? Were the people involved both wanting to do what they were doing, or were they just acting? You may wish to teach them that a respectful relationship includes sex where both partners agree to what is happening (use the word “consent” and discuss it) and feel good about it. Ask them if what they saw resembled kind and caring intimacy or dominance, power, and disrespect.

Sometimes kids will assume that what they see online is an accurate representation of normal sexual behavior. After exposure, explain to your child that what they are seeing is not real. Sexual behavior is normal but online videos are staged and is not an example of regular sexual behavior.

7) Talk about sex:

You may wish to talk to them about what sex is and why we have sex. Discussions about love and intimacy are important. So, too, are discussions about boundaries, appropriate age and timing for intimacy, and other personal values related to sex and love.

8)Problem-solve together:

Ask them whether they think it is a good idea to look for those kinds of things on the Internet again. (It’s not.)

Encourage them to think of ways to stay safe. Answers might include:

  • Avoiding using keywords that lead to these kinds of images
  • Updating security levels on devices
  • Keeping devices in public places
  • Avoiding friends, relatives, and neighbours who are viewing pornography
  • Having regular conversations about what your child is viewing.

*For older children with more free access to the Internet, you may begin to notice a concerning pattern of behavior or perhaps a glance at their Internet history shows access to online pornography. For these children, I’d suggest starting the conversation with a statement like: “It seems that you’ve been spending a lot of time on your tablet lately and by the history, it looks like some of that time has been on sites with adult content. I want to talk with you about some of the risks associated with viewing this material.”

Extra Tip: Encourage your child to talk to you anytime about any questions they have, or anything else they see.

In a perfect world, you will have been having positive conversations about sex and intimacy with your children from an early age. A discussion about pornography may not have been in your plans, but accidental exposure to this kind of content demands a response. These tips can provide a useful springboard to further ongoing healthy conversations about intimate topics with your children.

How to talk to your children about their private parts – Topics for Parents Mini-edu Session

Topic: How to talk to your children about their private parts and teaching them the proper names for their private parts.

This information was compiled with the help of Mark, CASASC Child Therapist.

A critical tip for talking to children about private part names is that the conversation should not just happen once or twice, but becomes incorporated into the language in the home. This helps create an acceptability of the words and limits the times they are used in silly ways.

Parents should pay very close attention to the tone, volume and cadence they use when teaching the words. When the use of voice is not natural and has inflections in it, it can teach the child that their genitals are not equal to other parts of their body, which may contribute to shame.

Parents should discuss if they are both on the same page about using proper names for private part names. If you are giving nicknames to private parts, but not to the rest of the body parts, that may signal to the child there is something different about their private parts. Some experts in this field support the use of nicknames when nicknames are used for many other body parts, and the child knows the proper names.

There is a difference between having your child be sexually aware and learning about sexual intercourse. For young children they should learn to feel good about their body – both the parts that people see and the parts that are private for them to see. A children’s picture book such as Amazing You by Dr. Gail Saltz or What’s the Big Secret by Laurie Krasny Brown provide visuals and language that will help the child have a better understanding of the private parts of boys and girls and some of their functioning.

Leaving a book for the child to read on their own may feel more comfortable, but it discourages asking the questions that the child will immediately have and may show the child you are unwilling to talk about this topic.

Timing can be important in teaching the names of private parts to children. Opportunities when the child has demonstrated observations about their bodies, parts and the differences of gender should be honored by responding to what they see and are a teaching opportunity.

Parents will notice that talking to their children about their private parts will create automatic thoughts and feelings that are hard for them to control. The following thoughts will occur:

  1. Doubt in being able to say if right
  2. Failing their child in these talks which will cause harm to how they communicate with the child
  3. A parent will struggle that they are compromising their child’s innocence by giving to much information in this area.
  4. Talking to your child about their private parts will lead that child to tell their friends and lead to their parents not approving of your actions.
  5. When the parent goes to have this talk their own childhood experiences come back especially if it was lacking open and honesty in conversations.
  6. Fear that when the child realizes that their parts will change as they age may be scary and frightening.

One of the best ways to teach children, is to examine your own automatic thoughts and challenge the fears that you are having and where they might be coming from.

One good tip for teaching their children about the names of their private parts is to, at the same time, teach them about proper hygiene. Bath time can be a good opportunity to complete both tasks. They can learn the names of different parts of their body, some of their functioning depending on the age, and you can add how they can properly wash their body parts and understanding why we do so.

Another resource that parents can depend on for the same topic is this book The New Speaking of Sex: what your children need to know and when they need to know it by: Meg Hickling, who is a RN who has been a sexual health educator for more than 25 years. Her ability to convey difficult material with sensitivity, gentle humour and warmth distinguishes her  as a remarkable teacher and a role model.