Warm temperatures and bright sunshine remind us that summer has arrived. With summer comes fun and relaxation and, often, more unstructured time. It’s important for parents to remind children about how to keep their bodies safe and ways of avoiding unhealthy interactions. Having these kinds of conversations help foster strong, open relationships with children that can last a lifetime.
Here are a few tips about the messages to communicate:
Your body belongs to you
Reinforce that the parts of their bodies that are covered by bathing suits are private. “No one is allowed to touch, look at, or talk about those private parts.”
Pay attention to uh-oh feelings
Tell children that they should pay attention to their internal alarm systems. “If you feel butterflies in the pit of your stomach, don’t ignore them. Even if you don’t know exactly what is causing the fluttering, talk with me or another adult you trust because we’ll be able to help you figure out what’s going on.”
The difference between a surprise and a secret
Remind children that no adult – even a family member or teacher – should ask them to keep a secret. “A surprise is okay because I will eventually know about it. But if someone ever promises you a big present or threatens to hurt you if you tell, that’s a bad secret and you need to tell me right away.”
You can talk with me
Emphasize that you are always available to listen and talk. “Your body and sexuality are okay topics to talk about. I realize it may not be easy to ask questions or tell me what’s bothering you. It’s normal to feel nervous or uncomfortable. But I always want you to come to me so that I can give you good information and we can figure things out together.”
The JCFS Chicago Jewish Community Services professional staff team is available to consult with parents, teachers, synagogue leaders and others or provide presentations for your school, congregation or group. Please contact Amy Rubin, Senior Director of Community Services or 847.745.5432.