The Boss of Their Bodies

Helping children learn to be the “boss of their body” is a fundamental step in body safety education. Teaching them to speak up when they feel uncomfortable or unsafe builds self-confidence and sends the message that their body belongs to them.
There are opportunities in everyday life to teach and reinforce this concept with children. They can make choices about touches they receive and activities they participate in. Some examples could include:

  • A friend/sibling asks them to play wrestle and this makes them feel uncomfortable
  • Someone they haven’t seen in a while wants to give them a hug or a kiss
  • A person they like is tickling them, but now they want the tickling to stop
  • An older kid they look up to wants them to break a rule at home and not tell

Talk to your child about how it is okay to say, “No”, “I don’t want to”, or “I can’t do that” in settings where they feel unsafe or uncomfortable. It is also important for children to know how important it is they come to you and tell you about these situations so you can listen to what happened and can help.
A final part of these conversations with children should include talking with them about how there are rules at home they will be required to follow – these may include bath time, eating a variety of healthy foods, and maintaining a bedtime that allows them enough sleep each night – all with the goal of keeping them safe and healthy. Children can be encouraged to voice their feelings, and choices may be offered where appropriate, but parents and caregivers will need to make the final call on rules children need to follow in order to be safe and healthy.