Last week we worked on helping children understand their own feelings and linking different kinds of touch with ‘yes’ or ‘no’ feelings.This week we’ll look at feelings again and how adults and kids can practice the skills needed to talk about emotions.
With the pressures of everyday life, many of us who care for children can end up contradicting children’s feelings without even meaning to. Does this scenario sound familiar?:
Child: “I don’t want to go to kindy, I HATE kindy”
Adult: “No you don’t hate kindy! You said you loved it yesterday.”
Adult: “We are going to go visit Gran today”
Child: “I don’t like Gran, I don’t want to go”
Adult: “Don’t be silly, you love Gran! She loves you!”
Sometimes kids can express feelings which are difficult to deal with, or don’t work with everything that needs to be done to run a household. These are tricky moments and understandably adults often just need things to flow smoothly.
In these moments, adults have an opportunity to build on kids’ abuse prevention skills or to undermine them. When we tell children they don’t feel like they say they do (e.g. ‘you don’t hate Gran’ or ‘you really like kindy’), we create confusion in them and make them doubt their own feelings. Abusers often use confusion to keep children quiet by telling kids that something feels nice when it is actually confusing or scary.
In everyday life we know that feelings change, and our kids are unlikely to hate kindy or Gran forever. It’s important that we still acknowledge children’s feelings regardless of whether we think they are always true. When we take children’s feelings seriously, it helps them develop faith in their own perceptions and to know that we will believe them.
NOTE: Acknowledging kids’ feelings doesn’t mean we always have to change our plans, but it does mean that we can take these opportunities to help kids know that we respect that they know about how they feel.
There are some great resources for adults in these situations here https://www.ahaparenting.com/blog/Preventive_Maintenance_to_Keep_Your_Child_Out_of_the_Breakdown_Lane
This week’s activity:
You can explain to kids that some kinds of touches can make us feel good and we call them ‘yes’ feelings, while others can make us feel scared, or yukky and that we can call these ‘no’ feelings. Some feelings might start as a yes, but end up feeling a no like when you are on a swing and it goes too high and makes you feel scared or sick, or when someone tickles us for too long.
It is important to help kids understand that they should tell an adult about any touching which makes them have a no feeling or where there is both yes and no feelings together.
Help them understand that different people like different kinds of touch and that it is up to each person to decide what gives them a yes or no feeling (e.g. Grandma gets a no feeling from a foot massage, and I get a yes feeling. It is ok that we like different things because we ea Last week, we looked at helping children identify feelings. How did you get on with the exercises? Did you find that praising children for telling you about their feelings encouraged them to do it more? How many feelings are your children able to identify so far?
This week, we will be talking about how to help children understand the link between feelings and touch.ch get to decide if a touch gives us a yes or no feeling’).
If discussion about touching genitals comes up, remind them about the touching rules for private parts. (1. Its ok to touch your own 2. it’s not ok to touch someone else’s 3.It’s not ok for someone else to touch yours).
This week caregivers can:
Last week we focused on setting in place some touching rules for private parts so children are clear on what is and is not appropriate touch. How did that go? People sometimes find it most difficult to talk with people outside their own home about the touching rules. Did you find a way to raise it with your friends/ daycare/ extended family that you would like to share?
This week we will be looking at feelings and how to help children develop a way to understand and express their own feelings.
This can help with child sexual abuse prevention because it makes it easier for children to talk about their worried and difficult feelings. You can help children talk about worried feelings by teaching your child to put their feelings into words.
The first step is to help kids understand their own feelings and to name them.
This week, we invite caregivers to:
Welcome back! Last week we focused on helping children feel positive about their bodies and what they can do. How did you find the exercises? How did you adapt them for your child/ren?
This week, we are focusing on putting in place some touching rules for private parts. This is so that children are clear about what is and is not appropriate touch. Read on for more information …
Pre-schoolers are wonderful concrete thinkers. They like to learn the rules for things and to remind us when we break them (remember that time you forgot to put your seatbelt on right away? Or that time they reminded their grandparents to ‘make it click’?).
You can use this to your advantage by putting in place some touching rules for bodies which follow them wherever they are.
Touching rules should cover who’s allowed to touch their private parts (penis, vulva/vagina, anus) and what to do if someone breaks the rules. Touching rules can give your child the confidence to say it is not ok and to tell you if someone tries to touch their private parts (we will cover this in more detail soon, in the meantime tell them that they should tell you regardless of who has done it and you will listen).
Touching rules for private parts include:
This week caregivers can:
Last week we focused on using the proper names for body parts in a calm and matter of fact way. How did you get on with the exercises? Was it unusual to use the proper names or was it just normal for your household?
This week we will be developing even more body awareness. This time we
are focusing on helping kids feel positive about their own body so they feel great about owning and being in control of their body (an important part of child sexual abuse prevention).
Helping kids understand that different parts of their bodies have different functions helps them see their body as special, and a tool they own that they can use to do all sorts of things.
This is the foundation of body ownership, where we teach kids that their body is their own and that there are some touching rules people need to follow – which we will cover next week.
This week caregivers can:
The Vigil for Grace Millane in Auckland's Federal Street last night was a beautiful gathering with shared purpose to honour those who have died and to voice the need for change. Thank you to Ali Mau and others who arranged, it, who spoke and who led us in song.
But it was only half the story. There was much talk of men's violence against women, in particular domestic violence, but this was not how Grace Millane died. We don't yet know her story, but we do-know that most female travellers and many other girls and women who are killed in this country are killed as part of sexually motivated attacks. This seems to be much harder to talk about than domestic or family violence.
So why is the distinction important? While both are fueled by a context of misogyny and undervaluing women and children, they are different in their nature and require different responses including different legal and treatment responses. Those responses are also differently resourced. For example, there are few places in this country now without access to "living without violence programmes for men who abuse their partners, but I am not aware of any community programmes to treat men who have thoughts of sexual violence towards adult women who are not their partners. This is notable in a society in which it seems about 1 in 5 adult women is a victim of sexual assault, and a society which is saturated with pornography which often denigrates women and abuses children, all the while training the users' brains to align their sexual arousal patterns with this violence.
One of the things we know about this kind of violence is that it often follows an escalating pathway. So where is the outreach to invite people struggling with these kinds of urges or thoughts, to engage in treatment early on in this pathway. And where is the treatment.
At HELP we support people who are making complaints of sexual assault to police. Day after day, women are making complaints about men who have sexually assaulted them, but day after day most of those complaints go nowhere because our criminal justice system requires a kind of evidence which doesn't usually exist. Just last week a woman told me that sh felt like the only ways she would have had that evidence was if she had been wearing a camera, but she couldn't have done that as she had no idea of when someone was going to decide to sexually assault her.
So what does this tell the guy with sexually harmful behavior - that he can do what he likes in this country because there is about a 99% chance that he will get away with it.
If we want this to be a safe country for women travellers, or for any woman or child, we need to turn this around. We need to let people know that it is not OK to use other people to meet their sexual needs. We need an outreach program me to invite those who might be struggling with sexually harmful ideas or urges to seek treatment. We also need to make a dramatic change to our justice system so that it can be effective at providing consequences for those who sexually violate adults and children, to turn that 99% chance of getting away with it, into a 99% chance of facing consequences, before it gets to homicide.
We are committed to continuing to provide specialist services to help victims reclaim their lives after the devastation that sexual violence causes.
To do this we would appreciate your support this Christmas.
Thank you as always for your support. Wishing you safe and happy holidays Kathryn McPhillips
Executive Director - HELP Auckland
PS. If you would like to support HELP's ongoing work to help victims of sexual assault,
please consider making a donation.
Last week we were talking about how important it is to show children that we are available to listen to them, that we want them to tell us about things that are bothering them. How did you get on with the exercises last week? We found the easiest part telling the kids we loved them and wanted to hear if something was bothering them. How about you?
This week we will be talking about bodies and how important it is to use the proper names for bodies!
Children who know the proper names of their body parts, including their genitals, and are used to talking about their bodies with their caregivers may find it easier to talk about inappropriate touching if it happens.
The more matter-of-factually, and without embarrassment, we can talk about bodies, the easier it is for children to talk to us about those parts of their bodies. They often learn from us what is embarrassing or shameful, and if we are not embarrassed talking about bodies it can make it easier for them. When children don’t hear their adults talking about bodies, they can learn that it’s something they shouldn’t talk about, which can make it hard to speak up about inappropriate touch.
This week caregivers can:
Last week we talked about how
important your relationship with your
child is for preventing child sexual abuse (check out our post on the 1st December). How did you get on with the exercises?
We also did them, and noticed the number of times where demands on our time were split over work, kids and other things.
It seemed to help to make eye contact with the kids, even if to just say we’d be there in a moment. How did you get on?
This week, we will be talking about how to react when a child tells us about abuse.
We know from research that what happens when a child tells someone about abuse is really important in their later recovery from the whole experience.
That’s why if a child chooses you as their safe person and tells you about abuse we should aim to:
This week we would like to invite you to practice:
Children who feel emotionally secure and well-loved are less vulnerable because they are less likely to respond well to a person’s attempts to charm them or coerce them. They are also more likely to tell and be believed if something does happen.
A good relationship with your child reduces the likelihood that someone will choose your child to abuse. A good relationship with a child is:
The best kind of child sexual abuse prevention is the kind that is repeated (not just once), and in a range of different settings (pre-school, home, clubs, extended family). When everyone around a child reinforces the same messages, it can help kids to be safer from sexual abuse.
You don’t have to do this alone. If you are looking for a safe, evaluated pre-school program, you might like to check out our ‘We Can Keep Safe’ Preschool Program ( https://www.helpauckland.org.nz/help-for-pre-schoolers.html ). It’s designed to run in early childhood settings (kindys, playschools, daycares etc.) and is a fun, interactive way to help keep kids safe from sexual abuse. If you are in the Auckland region, you can ask your centre to consider bringing the programme in.
Earlier this year, one of our presenters was stopped in the supermarket by a grateful mother of a primary school aged child who had done the programme some years ago.
“The girl had recently been involved in an incident in which a person tried to get her to be sexual with him. The girl got away immediately, and told her parents when she got home that she did that because she knew that she was the boss of her body, a key message from the programme.”
Tune in this Saturday for an overview of what kinds of things can help prevent child sexual abuse.
In New Zealand, 1 in 3 girls and 1 in 7 boys may experience child sexual abuse before they turn 16. Most of these children are sexually abused by someone they (and their family) know and trust.
While it’s understandable that stats like these can leave people feeling overwhelmed, there is something we can all do to help stop child sexual abuse.
1. Speak up if we are concerned about a child at risk (e.g. contact Oranga Tamariki 0508 326 459; or HELP Auckland 09 623 1700 if you need to talk it through first)
2. Do something to lessen the likelihood of child sexual abuse happening in the first place.
There are lots of things adults can do to help stop child sexual abuse from ever happening in the first place – and the strategies are simple and easy to follow.
Over the next few months, on Saturday mornings, we’ll be publishing some Facebook and Instagram posts so that everyday people can help prevent child sexual abuse. The activities will be based on our pre-school prevention program ‘We Can Keep Safe’, so they’ll be age appropriate, easy to follow and won’t upset the kids.
Whether you are a caregiver, grandparent, teacher, Aunty/ Uncle, coach or family friend, there is something we can all do to help kids grow up safe from child sexual abuse.
Please join us in creating a movement for child safety. Share the posts, talk with people you know, and try the strategies - together we really can make a difference.
Link to statistics page from HELP website https://www.helpauckland.org.nz/sexual-abuse-statistics.html
We are heartbroken to tell you all that Eva left us yesterday morning.It was very fast and peaceful and she was surrounded by her loved ones.Thank you so much to all of you who have followed Eva's journey and supported her dreams.We expect the funeral will be later in the week in Wellington- will keep you all posted here once we've finalised the details.Kia au to moe e Eva.Arohanui wāhine toa
The survivor of the St Mary's Bay attack has asked HELP to share her press statement through our site, as this statement was not released, as she had hoped for by the media, after the sentencing last week. Through releasing her statement, she hopes that through sharing that her thoughts and feelings about her experience accurately and in her own words, that this may help others.
I initially thought I would write something that would be positive, showing how I did not identify myself as a victim or a survivor but a "Champion", and with a good therapist, avoid PTSD and remain resilient.
Yes, what happened to me was horrible. Yet, I am wary that releasing a statement will be another 'catchy' headline that detracts from deeper societal issues. I emphasize that the real problem seems to be partner violence. I do not know if my experience of sexual assault and its aftermath and recovery can help those individuals and their communities.
However, I urge anybody who witnesses or experiences a sexual assault to not remain silent and suffer. I am grateful for the Auckland Police and for their intense effort to find the stranger who attacked me. Additionally, I am grateful that the bicyclist came along at the right time and heard me. In hard times, I am appreciative that Steven Pinker wrote these words to remind me of the good humanity can do as well as the way I choose to act for my well-being and others:
Humans are not innately good (just as they are not innately evil), but they come equipped with motives that can orient them away from violence and toward cooperation and altruism. Empathy (particularly in the sense of sympathetic concern) prompts us to feel the pain of others and to align their interests with our own. Self-control allows us to anticipate the consequences of acting on our impulses and to inhibit them accordingly. The moral sense sanctifies a set of norms and taboos that govern the interactions among people in a culture, sometimes in ways that decrease violence, though often (when the norms are tribal, authoritarian, or puritanical) in ways that increase it. And the faculty of reason allows us to extricate ourselves from our parochial vantage points, to reflect on the ways in which we live our lives, to deduce ways in which we could be better off, and to guide the application of the other better angels of our nature. (from The Better Angels of Our Nature)
Hi, I’m Nic Mason and I recently switched from being a 'once or twice a year' donor to being a regular monthly giver.
Having the power to improve the lives of others is important to me. It’s a privilege to stand beside HELP every month and give them my consistent financial support. Its gives me a real feeling of belonging and making a difference.
I found monthly giving simple and easy to track and budget for. I hardly notice the difference and at the end of the financial year HELP send me an annual receipt to claim back on my tax.
To become a regular giver got to: