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Five ways to empower your child | Eye News | #childsafety | #kids | #chldern | #parents | #schoolsafey

With growing cases of violence towards children, what are the ways to help them speak up and establish boundaries

childHere are ways you can empower your child. (Source: Freepik)

When a child doesn’t feel safe with an adult, it’s important to empower the child with tools that help them cope and communicate to ensure their well-being. Some tools that children can use are:

  1. Teach the child about personal boundaries and that it’s okay to say “No” when they feel uncomfortable. Encourage them to assert their boundaries in a calm respectful manner. Teach the children to speak up for themselves and seek help when needed. This skill can be invaluable in various life situations.
  2. Help the child identify other adults they trust and feel safe with. These individuals can be family members, friends’ parents, mentors, or school counsellors. Let the child know that it’s okay to ask for help. If there’s a situation where the child is uncomfortable to talk, they may have a pre-agreed-upon code-word with a parent/trusted adult. This word signals that they need help without explicitly stating it.
  3. Encourage the child to listen to their “gut feeling”. If something doesn’t feel right, they have the right to remove themselves from the situation. Help the child develop a plan for leaving a situation when they do not feel safe. Help the child pre-identify the safe spaces, whether it is at home, at school (like a washroom), or at a neighbour’s house, where they can go. Ensure the child knows emergency phone numbers.
  4. Parents can role-play different scenarios with the child where the child can practice asserting themselves and expressing their discomfort to the adult in question. Parents should encourage the child to confide in them or a friend or in people who can provide emotional support. Reinforce that feeling uncomfortable or unsafe is not their fault. No child should ever blame themselves for the adult’s inappropriate behaviour.
  5. Advise the child to keep a diary to document any incidents or uncomfortable situations. This can help them open-up and also keep track of what’s happening. Teach the child to practice self-care relaxation techniques such as deep breathing, creative visualization, or mindfulness-based exercises in order to help them manage the anxiety and stress.

The child’s safety is of the utmost importance. If the child’s safety is at risk, involving the concerned authorities may be necessary.

(Dr Shaunak Ajinkya is consultant, psychiatrist, Kokilaben Dhirubhai Ambani Hospital Mumbai)

First published on: 05-09-2023 at 06:30 IST


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