Child Protection is everyone’s business! And mothers have an important role to play in this regard, as the home is the seat of learning values, beliefs, cultural and societal norms, and life skills.
During this month of Child Protection Awareness, which coincides with the celebration of Mother’s Day we felt it fitting to look at what mothers can do to provide their children with a caring, loving, and safe environment.
When we hear ‘child protection’ our thoughts invariably go to protection from sexual predators, physical abuse within the family and child trafficking, and yes, it is all of this, however there is also the need for children’s emotions, dreams, self-esteem and developing personalities to be protected.
The following are ideas that mothers can use to create a safe environment for children;
- Teach your child life skills – Children should learn to be cautious, alert, and prepared – not fearful.
- Be calm and reassuring – Children should feel comfortable raising anything that concerns them with you.
- Give your child permission to say “No” and ‘tell on’ – Explain the difference between a surprise and a secret, surprises are for things that make people happy, while secrets make people feel uncomfortable and unsafe.
- Help your child identify trusted adults – Talk to children about who they can go to in an emergency.
- Teach and set body boundaries – Tell children that their private parts are the parts covered up and that no one should touch their private parts or ask them to touch other people’s private parts.
- Teach your child the buddy system – Children should be told that it is always safer to be with others than alone.
- Teach your child your cell phone number and who else they can phone for help.
- Role-play with your child – Children learn by doing. They need to practice saying “No”!
- Play the “What If” game – Help children think of responses to various situations.
We can make a difference, we don’t have to be perfect, just willing to listen, learn, grow, and change the way we think and do things.