Your young child is entering pre-school phase and starting to integrate socially. It’s a whole new world and one which if not navigated with the social tools for engagement turns into a power dynamic may produce the first young perpetrator and victim. But for the children themselves; they are just playing a game.
The game of life today is a grown-up world of how we first engaged socially with other children at school and on the playground. Each endeavouring young student starts out open to discovery. It’s our first opportunity to experience learning through games both academic and for gathering social skills… many young children however have been ill prepared to handle sexual bullying (unwanted touch) and intimidation from children their own age.
It’s essential we give young children the tools for navigation when starting kindergarten and elementary school for the first time; especially those of respect, dignity and self-actualisation; teaching them that their bodies are their bodies but making them understand what that really means in this new big world of sensations, ideas, games, and encounters.
Gender exploration occurs around age 5 years usually occurring within the first preschool and Grade 1 years. For educators, the child’s new landscape and the group’s class dynamics can be easily levelled with educational programs which give young children the language to express what they are feeling and how to respond to situations where they may feel threatened. As adults however we need to be listening.
By guiding young children on how to navigate life with the tools for their empowerment we are taking a stand towards the prevention of sexual harassment, gender bullying and abuse in later life gender from our partners, bosses and family environments. Early education in self-actualisation in young children not only help to prevent sexual harassment but builds confidence and understanding of the child’s place in the world.
Pre-school and early childhood educators and parents of young children can expand their knowledge by introducing the 6 week Taking a Stand 1 and Taking a Stand Big Time for ages 5+ and up with the Voice of the Child Association founded and directed by Dr Ayelet Giladi. All educational teaching programs are age appropriate and have produced the immediate result of a reduction in levels of gender violence and harassment in the classroom.
What you can do as a parent:
- Teach your child about their body parts and have clear words for naming them anatomically.
- Ensure there is an adult available that they know they can speak to; sometimes a child will open up more easily to a teacher or aunt or grandparents – ensure the person is able to handle the situation non-reactively and appropriately.
- Have a clear understanding with you child that while it is okay to touch one’s own private parts, it must only take place in a private space and just like we don’t touch others private parts, no one can touch ours.
- Educate yourself and the immediate family about how you would respond if a child came to you with a report of sexual bullying.
- Engage with the school principal about school policies on sexual bullying and chat to your child’s teacher to get an understanding of his or her’s awareness of the social and gender dynamics that may occur.
Need a consultation or want to learn more about pre-school and Grade 1 school programs which support children through a 6 week program in understanding and navigating social dynamics and the prevention of sexual harassment? Visit gloal.voiceofchild.co.il.