Parents do not often explore body protection with their children early enough in age. At times we do not want to believe that a close relative, teacher, or even our child’s peers could violate our toddler at such a young and tender age. However, child sexual assault is not rare (though it is more likely to suggest children are behaving sexually towards other children). It is a widely overlooked topic, and parents whose young children are involved still fail to find help. Parents mostly concentrate on shielding their children from adult perpetrators when it comes to sexual abuse; few acknowledge the fact that the offender may be another child. Below are some tips on what to do when your toddler has opened up to you about inappropriate touching.
Listen to your toddler and believe what they say.
Sometimes it can be very hard for a toddler to tell their parents that someone has touched them inappropriately. If the perpetrator is another family member or close friend of the family, or your toddler’s peers, they may feel too ashamed to open up. Sometimes the toddler may be fearful or ashamed to talk about it because they guilt and/or shame. As parents, you must listen and believe what your child says and takes the necessary steps to prevent the abuse from happening again.
When having to tell that something traumatic has happened, toddlers may search for indications that they are going to be safe with opening up to you. Sexual assault can unquestionably alter a child’s perception of their environment. But, despite how distraught you are, they need to know that they are safe, that they are not damaged or hopeless. As in most severe traumatic accidents, children will and should heal in security, support, and specialist care. Staying calm will help your child feel more comfortable about telling you the details of what happened to them.
Tell your toddler it’s not his/her fault.
Toddlers can begin to feel like they have done something wrong when these kinds of things happen to them. It is important to comfort a child who discloses sexual harassment that they are not to blame at any rate. Shame and guilt are two of the most prevalent reactions to sexual abuse, and some of the toughest to conquer. Helping your child understand that it is not their fault and that the perpetrator, no matter who they are, has a sickness that caused this, is key to helping your child heal.
Tell your toddler there is nothing to fear.
Most children will begin to open up and show signs that someone has touched them inappropriately. However, they may also want to tell what happened to them but are afraid to tell why assaulted them. Maybe they were threatened and are afraid that something bad might happen to you or others in your family. Maybe they felt shame and betrayed because the perpetrator is close to them and the family. Whatever the case may be, helping your child overcome any fear they may have about the situation will enable them to open up comfortably.
Seek help immediately.
Getting help and support for both you and your toddler can help the healing process go smoothly. Many families are reluctant to cope privately with a revelation of sexual misconduct, particularly when the abuse happens within family or friends. Failure to seek help for everyone involved can further lead to more problems and consequences in the long run. It can also give your toddler mixed messaged, cause them to feel betrayed and hopeless. It can even enable the child to do the same thing to his peers and other children.
As parents, you must understand that when a child has been victimized, all family members are impacted, and each will require special assistance. Commonly, without support from an independent professional who may aid with the recovery phase, these types of family problems do not get better. Parents are also encouraged to seek additional help, counseling, and support for themselves as well. Rage and resentment is a natural and acceptable reaction when we are betrayed, or anyone threatens our sense of protection, especially when anyone hurts our children. Choose associates and experts who will support you in articulating your emotions. Seek somewhere separate from your toddler to vent your anger and anguish.
Find a support group for your toddler.
We live in an ever-changing world, and sexual assault has become a normal discomfort in most families’ lives. Finding a support group for your toddler can be very beneficial on your child’s healing journey. Peer support groups have children your child’s age who have been through similar things. These groups have been developed to let your child know that they are not alone, and they do not have to heal alone. Most of these groups offer a wide variety of activities and programs that makes healing fun and comfortable.
Try art therapy.
Art therapy can help you overcome their psychological issues associated with sexual assault. Art therapy works well for children because it works on their emotions. When a child expresses his/her feelings in a painting, it helps him/her to understand that others can feel the same way about the subject matter. Kids will often express feelings of sadness in paintings that encourage them to express more of their emotions. One of the benefits of art therapy is that it helps children learn to deal with the stresses they face and are given a chance to face their fears. This encourages them to recognize their emotions, deal with their feelings, and overcome their fears as they heal.
How’s your toddler behaving with other children?
When it comes to proper touching of your children, there are a few things you can do to help reduce inappropriate touching. As parents, we have the responsibility to teach our children how to properly touch each other, regardless of whether they want to or not. We also need to make sure that our children understand that certain actions are not appropriate for specific situations.
Unfortunately, if we don’t fight these bad habits, we will be much more likely to be victims of those who may be trying to show their dominance. If our children are touching inappropriately with other kids that they should be able to trust, and with strangers, it’s extremely easy to become confused and hurt.
Those children who suffer the most are often the ones who blame themselves. It’s possible to learn the same inappropriate touching and leadership behaviors from your children that you have learned from your peers. We all must make an effort to not be a voyeur, because we may be allowing your children to mimic the types of behaviors that will later lead to bad touching and inappropriate touching.
You can help to prevent bad touching and inappropriate touching by teaching your children how to recognize when they are being touched inappropriately and what kind of response they should give.