Good - Bad Touch
I see many preschools and schools trying to make children aware of what good touch and bad touch are. Some define touching the face, cheeks, a handshake is good, the areas covered by a swimsuit are the private parts and that touch is bad touch.
Sorry, but, for a child any touch is a bad touch. Shall we empower the child to decide who she wants to interact with and what she calls the touch that she had encountered as?
Shall we not push the child to answer questions from strangers and push the child to give a handshake to that neighbour uncle. The child very well intuitively knows who she should trust and not. But, it's usually the adults who from infancy stage make the child believe in what adult feel is correct, that need not be necessarily correct by using phrases like 'He is just your uncle, don't cry, you should go to him', 'give a handshake, else you are a bad girl', 'oh, the relative just wants to carry you, why do you cry, s/he is our relative/neighbour' and many more. In this process, we are going in negation to what the child's intuition tells them and gradually the child forgets to listen to her intuition and do as per her gut, rather, goes according to what the society has set the definition for socialising or good/bad behaviour.
Coming back to touch, yes, any touch is bad touch. Even touching cheeks could be bad touch. The neighbour uncle pulls a child's cheeks in the park, the child does not feel comfortable but resists thinking it is not 'bad touch' as per definition of the mother or the teacher. Imagine what other things the child could be made to believe or could happen to the child. Even a handshake could be uncomfortable, there are some uncles who squeeze the child's hands during the handshake and the child's mind and mouth are shut because handshake was defined as good touch by the parent/teacher.
What if the child who is made to believe this will allow the neighbour uncle who pinches the cheeks every day saying 'hello baby' ... the child intuitively wants to get rid of it.. but just because another adult defined it as good touch the child may allow it to happen. As a child, even a handshake from the roadside uncle is seen as a bad touch, the child would not be willing to do it.. But, it is the adult who says 'give a handshake, you are a good girl na, give handshake' that may lead to touching the cheeks next, that has been termed as good touch and next and next...
For once, empower the child to decide what's good touch and bad touch... a child does not like even the cheeks to be touched. Let her believe in her judgement rather than these definitions of touching the cheek is good and butt is bad.
Empowering the child does not mean the parent does not talk at all or just ignores the child. Yes, interaction with children is most required but the interaction would consist of more inputs from the child than the adult. It is not adults who can define what's good for children but we can help children express their thoughts, feelings out and help them make their own decisions and definitions about what's good and what's bad.
- Sujaya | www.nurturinglove.in