When Children Play – a Teachable Moment

Parenting Safe Children - ImageYou’ve just eaten a big meal and the children, of all different ages, are restless. They want to go play while the adults linger over coffee. What kind of supervision is required to ensure everyone’s safety?

Children can get into scenarios while playing which can be compromising. Remind kids to keep the doors open and review body-safety practices with them. Also let the kids know to come ask if they need anything and let them know that you’ll be in to check on them from time to time.

As children go off to play, remind both the children and the adults about your family’s four body-safety practices:

  • Everyone plays with their clothes on.
  • No one touches private parts.
  • We don’t keep secrets.
  • If you feel unsafe in any way, come tell a trusted adult.

Pay particular attention to much older children who are playing with much younger children—i.e., an age difference of four or more years. Consider these scenarios between Justin (14 years old) and Jaime (6 years old), and note the behaviors of potential or actual concern:

  • Jaime repeatedly pulls Justin out of the group of kids and disappears with him. (teen isolating a child from larger group)
  • Justin squeezes Jaime’s buttocks several times. (sexualized teasing)
  • Justin squeezes Jaime’s buttocks when Jaime has asked him to stop. (poor boundaries)
  • Justin shows Jaime an adult porn magazine. (sexually harmful behavior)
  • Justin swears Jaime to secrecy about a special place in the basement. (secrecy)

Children need supervision regardless of the setting. Listen to your intuition and speak up if you feel uncomfortable. By communicating safety practices in front of other adults, you are modeling prevention and opening the door for conversation.




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