Teach your children to protect themselves

Dr. Heba Kotb marriage counselor and sex therapy consultant advises the following:

• Always keep the channels of communication between you and your child widely open.
• Make your child aware that there are parts of his body that no one should see other than him and his parents and also emphasize that no one is allowed to touch him in any area covered by his underwear.
• Listen very carefully to your child when he tells you anything, whether it seems important to you or not. This is essential for two reasons. The first is that your child has to understand that you will listen to him whenever he has something to say regardless of what that something is, not just when it seems important to you as a parent. The second reason is that the child will trust and feel comfortable enough to talk to you about anything that is of importance to him.
• Show your child your love and care, and make sure he knows that you will always support and defend him.
• Do not go to extremes in the upbringing of your child, whether by being too restrictive or by being over-spoiling.
• Never underestimate your child, his feelings, his concerns or his worries.
• Teach your child to never be afraid of saying “no” to a person who may make him feel uncomfortable. This will help him have the self-confidence he needs to defend himself whenever needed. For example, if someone asks him to undress in the bathroom at nursery or school then he should say, “No, I do not undress in front of others.” It is harder for someone to take advantage of a child with self-confidence and a strong will.
• Be very alert to changes in the child’s overall attitude and behavior.
• When bathing your child, check his body for any hidden bruises or other signs of trauma, etc.
• Educate yourself about child abuse so that you can arm yourself and your child against it.
• Teach your child never to go anywhere with anyone that you have not identified as a trustworthy person.
• Know where your child is at any time of the day or night.
• Do not overly depend on the help at home to take care of your child. Be careful and keep your eyes open at all times.
• Do not smother your children with an advice that will confuse them, rather keep your instructions simple and straightforward.

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