We teach our young children all sorts of ways to keep themselves safe. We teach them to watch the hot stove, we teach them to look both ways before they cross the street, but more often than not – body safety is not taught until much older – until sometimes…it is too late.


Do you teach your kids body safety? What are you waiting for? Here are 10 things every kids should know!

We cannot always prevent our children from being sexually abused, but arming our child with knowledge is a good preventative measure.


[Click here to listen to the podcast episode on this topic]


Research conducted by the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) estimates that approximately 1 in 6 boys and 1 in 4 girls are sexually abused before the age of 18. You want to hear something even scarier? According to the US Department of Justice (nsopw.org) only 10% of perpetrators were strangers to the child and 23% of the perpetrators were children themselves!

These statistics do not surprise me. In my practice I meet children on a weekly basis who have been victims of sexual abuse. Many of them are under five years old. Almost all of them knew their perpetrator and more often than not – it is another kid! Yes – another kid.


Parents will frequently tell me that they didn’t think this could happen to them. That they never leave their children with strangers. That they always keep their children within their eyesight.

Does your child go on playdates? Do they go to daycare or pre-school? Do you have friends or family over to your house? Do they play at the neighbor’s house? The fact is – you cannot fully prevent the risk of your child being sexually abused. I know that is hard to stomach – but unfortunately it is reality.

I have worked with really great families – who thought they had really great friends, neighbors, playmates, teachers, coaches, teammates, cousins, babysitters, siblings, uncles, boyfriends, and classmates. Perpetrators look just like you and me. They look just like your child – I think that is the scariest fact.

The children I have worked with have come from good neighborhoods, good homes – go to really good schools. I have worked with kids who have been sexually abused by other kids as young as 4! I have worked with children who have been sexually abused on playdates, sleepovers, in the classroom, on the playground, on the school bus, in their playroom and out in their backyard.

Now that I have officially scared you to death – let’s walk you off that cliff. We have to face the fact that we cannot protect our children from breaking bones, getting hurt or making mistakes. Nor can we prevent them from being at risk for sexual abuse.

Just like we allow our children to get on a bike, even though they might fall and hurt themselves – we have to allow our children to go out into the world and interact with those around them. But…just like the bike helmet, we can arm our children with knowledge that might keep them safe. Knowledge might be the one difference that might save them from being a victim.

Parents do not always talk to their children about body safety early enough. I have heard all sorts of reasons why this does not happen. They are too young. I keep an eye on them. They won’t understand. It is a scary topic. It won’t happen to me. We live in a good neighborhood.

Talk to your children. It is never too soon. It doesn’t have to be a scary conversation. Don’t wait another day. Start these conversations today. Here are the 10 most important areas to cover:

1.  Talk about body parts early

Name body parts and talk about them early – very early. Use proper names for body parts – or at least teach your children what the actual words are for their body parts. I can’t tell you how many young children I have worked with who have called their vagina their “bottom” and other various names. If children need to make a disclosure of abuse – this can make their story confusing.

2.  Teach them that body parts are private

Tell your children that their private parts are called private because their private parts are not for everyone to see. Explain that mommy and daddy can see them naked, but people outside of the home should only see them with their clothes on. Explain how their doctor can see them without their clothes because mommy and daddy are there with them and the doctor is checking their body.

3.  Teach your children body boundaries

Tell your children matter-of-factly that no one should touch their private parts and that no one should ask them to touch somebody else’s private parts. Parents will often forget the second part of this sentence. Sexual abuse often begins with the perpetrator asking the child to touch them or someone else.


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Preventing sexual abuse

4.  Tell your children that body secrets are not okay

Most perpetrators will tell children to keep the abuse a secret. This can be done in a friendly way such as, “I love playing with you, but if you tell anyone else what we played they won’t let me come over again” or as a threat – “This is our secret. If you tell anyone I will tell them it was your idea and you will get in big trouble!”

Tell your children that no matter what anyone tells them, body secrets are not okay. Let your children know that they should always tell you if someone makes them keep a body secret.

Tell your kids that if anyone tells them to keep a body secret, they should tell you right away.

5.  Tell your children that no one should take pictures of their private parts or show them pictures of private parts.

This one is often missed by parents. There is a whole sick world out there of pedaphiles who love to take and trade pictures of naked children online. This is an epidemic and it puts your children at risk. If you only talk about body safety you might be missing a risk factor. Tell your children that no one should ever take pictures of their private parts.


Also pedaphiles like to groom children by showing them pornographic pictures. This is their way of “normalizing” the abusive behavior. Let your children know that no one should be showing them pictures of other people’s private parts.

6.  Teach your children how to get out of scary or uncomfortable situations

Some children are uncomfortable with telling people “No” – especially older peers or adults. Help give them excuses to get out of uncomfortable situations. Tell your children that if someone wants to see or touch private parts they can lie to them and tell them they need to leave to go to the bathroom.


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7.  Have a code word your children can use when they feel unsafe or want to be picked up

As children get a little bit older, you can give them a code word that they can use when they are feeling unsafe. This can be used at home, when there are guests in the house or when they are on a playdate or a sleepover.

Have a code word that you and your kids can use when they feel unsafe.

8. Tell your children they will never be in trouble if they tell you a body secret

Children often tell me that they didn’t say anything because they thought they would get in trouble too. This is often reiterated by the perpetrator. Tell your children that no matter what happens – when they tell you anything about body safety or body secrets they will NEVER get in trouble.


Typically child predators are people you know. People you trust. Learn the signs of child grooming and protect your kids.

9.  Tell your children that a body touch might tickle or feel good

Many parents and books talk about “good touch – bad touch” – but usually these touches do not hurt or feel bad. Try and stay away from these phrases, as it can confuse children that are “tickled” in their private parts. I prefer the term “secret touch” – as it is a more accurate depiction of what might happen.

10.  Tell your children that even if they know someone or even if it is another child – these rules are the same

This is an important point to discuss with your children. When you ask young children what a “bad guy” looks like they will most likely describe a cartoonish villain. Be sure to mention to your children that no one can touch their private parts.

You can say something like, “No one should touch your private parts. Mommy and daddy might touch you when we are cleaning you or if you need cream – but no one else should touch you there. Not friends, not aunts or uncles, not teachers or coaches – no one. Even if you like them or think they are in charge, they should still not touch your private parts.”

I am not naïve enough to believe that these discussions will absolutely prevent sexual abuse, but I know that children are at a much greater risk without these talks.

knowledge is a powerful deterrent to childhood sexual abuse – especially with young children who are targeted due to their innocence and ignorance in this area. Have these discussions often. One discussion is not enough. This is a topic that should be revisited again and again. Find natural times to reiterate these messages – such as bath time or when they are running around naked.

This can be a life altering article for some families and it has the power to prevent some horrific and traumatic experiences. Please share this article with those you love and care about and help me spread the message of body safety!


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I recently came across another therapist who offers an e-course to walk parents through completely safe guarding their technology. There are so many ways we can protect our kids if we just knew how! His wealth of knowledge is super helpful! You can learn more about his course here at iparent 101: Safety in the Digital Age.


To better arm yourself with knowledge, read this article on possible signs of sexual abuse:

Any child can be a victim of child sexual abuse. Know what to look for and be informed.


Parents often leave out crucial tips when teaching body safety. For the full article visit www.anxioustoddlers.com/prevent-sexual-abuse


Body Safety books on Amazon:

Check out Anxious Toddler’s other safety articles:

Stranger danger isn't cutting it. Learn these great tips to keep your kids safe!    

Child predators are not strangers in dark alleys. They are your friends, your relatives, the coach on your kid's team. The best way to protect your kids is to not be in denial. Learn their tactics and keep your kids safe.

47 responses to “Do You Teach Your Kids Body Safety? 10 Things Every Child Should Know.”

  1. Brandi Clevinger says:

    I know that this reality exists, but I didn’t realize it was in common areas such as the bus or playground. This is very scary to a mom, but I feel better prepared with your advice. Thank you for sharing.

    I forwarded this to my husband after I read the first paragraph, and he’s already called me with a discussion about it. Thanks again.

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Hi Brandi – I know it is a scary topic! I think that many parents have no idea how prevalent this issue is for young children. I am so glad I can provide you will knowledge that might arm your child with skills they otherwise would not have.

  2. Menna Samir says:

    Really i need to thank you a lot for this helpful advice and tips… Sexual abuse is there everywhere, we do have it in the Middleast. Allie my son, 3 years old, started quoting from his preschool friend talking about touching the private area; i just asked Allie to go and tell him that was a big mistake to say such things. According to your great article, i’ll talk and explain more to make him fully prepared for such situations…
    Thanks alot 🙂

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Hi Menna – I am so glad you found the article helpful. I think it is a discussion we should all be having with our children.

  3. Heather says:

    Wow! Thank you for such an informative article. I thought we had covered this well, but I can see some gaps I’ll need to fill in. It’s so scary to think of all the everyday places that abuse can happen. I’ll be sharing this article in several places because it’s so important.

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Hi Heather – I am glad you found it informative. I feel that if parents knew how to fill in the gaps in these discussions – they can arm their children that much better! Thanks for helping spread the word!!

  4. Joann Woolley says:

    This is such an important post. So glad you wrote it and I will be sharing it. I tried to see if you have a twitter handle but don’t see one…. that is where I tend to do most of my sharing. I am @sign4baby if you want to look me up there. This topic is of great value to my audience.

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Hi Joann- Glad you found the post as important as I do! Thanks for sharing the message. I didn’t have a twitter account (slow on the go with that one)…but your comment nudged me along and so you can find me now at @anxioustoddlers !!

  5. Melissa says:

    I have talked about private parts being private but I need to have a code word. I get nervous about my daughter being at school and my son will go to preschool next year. I know things happen in bathrooms at school and it scares me. Thanks for these great tips.

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Thanks for stopping by Melissa 🙂 I know it is a scary thought that sexual abuse can happen in the hidden crevices of our children’s lives and that there is little we can do to keep them away from those situations. It is my hope that if we spread the word to educate our children about these types of risks – children might be a little bit safer.

  6. Steph says:

    Such a scary thing to think about – but so important to discuss. Thanks for your tips!

  7. Mollie says:

    This is a great article but as a nanny I have a couple of questions maybe you can help me with.

    The 2 girls I look after, one is approaching 2 and the other is 4 months old. They not only have me watching them but also the grandparents one day a week. Plus the oldest will be going into preschool a couple days a week beginning in August. With so many caregivers in the picture and the almost 2 year old not potty trained, how do you teach her who is okay to touch her to clean her and when it’s not okay? Teachers or preschool caregivers will still need to help her. How can we make this not confusing?

    And also, when teaching her to exercise her right to say ‘no’ when she doesn’t want to be touched there, when people are still changing her diaper and needing to help her and she says ‘no’ she doesn’t want her diaper changed. How do we go about that because she’s exercising her right to say no but at the same time she has to be changed.

    Thoughts? Thanks!

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Hi Mollie – you bring up some great points. When I am talking about body safety I will tell young kids something like, “People should only touch your private parts when they are changing your diaper, cleaning you or putting cream or medicine on you. You can also mention people who might change their diaper and keep it in general terms. You can mention, “even though you don’t like people changing your diaper – that is something that has to happen to keep you clean.” It is an ongoing discussion and as she gets older she will gain a better understanding of these body boundaries. I hope that helps!!

  8. Jenny @ Unremarkable Files says:

    Thanks for this post! I haven’t had this kind of conversation with my kids for a looooong time… like, maybe the younger ones weren’t even born yet. So we had a really good talk about it tonight. Thanks to you!

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Hi Jenny – I am so glad this post is creating some good conversations at home. That was my hope 🙂

  9. Ali Gilbert says:

    I get anxious just thinking that this is something I will have to discuss with my daughter. Thanks for the tips!! Also, thanks for sharing on #ToddlerFunFriday!

  10. My Bored Toddler says:

    This is a really great article that needs to be read by every parent. Thanks so much for sharing.

  11. Nina says:

    Natasha this is so important. I didn’t even think about alternative ways of saying no. I think I need to tell my kiddos that they can either say no or make up an excuse to leave. Point is, to get out right away.

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      I wouldn’t have thought about this either – until kiddos I worked with who were victims told me they were uncomfortable with saying no and didn’t know any other way to get away.

  12. […] Are you Teaching your Toddler Skills to Prevent Sexual Abuse […]

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  14. […] them or touch their private parts – even people they know. Teach your child to notice the warning signs of sexual abuse . Learn how to spot when someone is grooming your child for abuse […]

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  16. Emma says:

    Such a useful post! Sadly we live in a world where to our toddler, we have to teach these things.

    Thanks for sharing!

  17. Zamira says:

    This is great. Here in NZ, there’s one lady that visits all the preschools (she’s booked a year in advance) teaching them about body safety in a fun way. Unfortunately my son wasn’t able to take much in from it as he has ASD and wasn’t very verbal back then. Any suggestions on visuals out there I could use to help him remember? He loves warning signs so anything with symbols would be great.

  18. Cheryl says:

    Something I think gets missed in these kind-of articles, and don’t get me wrong I enjoyed reading this and have taken away a few new things, but it’s parents taking pictures of their own children either naked (but not showing their parts) or in their underclothesand posting to social media – no matter how much security you think you have on your Facebook account nothing you post is private.

  19. Stephanie says:

    Do you suggest including grandparents in the examples of people who should not look at or touch a child’s privates when teaching them? I know grandparents often care for their grandchildren frequently and have to do things like wiping or putting on cream as parents would do but I also know that there are cases of molestation by grandfathers and also fathers for that matter. How do you approach the discussion to include it being inappropriate for either of these family members to touch inappropriately while also saying it’s ok for daddy or grandparents to wipe or touch when necessary?

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Hi Stephanie –
      Good question. There are many loving caregivers other than parents who have to help with diapering, toileting and bathing issues. I think it is helpful to name the people that are allowed to help kids with these hygiene issues and explain in what context those people should be touching them.

  20. C/S says:

    This question may seem stupid… It’s about properly naming their body parts…
    My parents never talked to me about my body. At all. I’ve been very open with my children about their bodies. With my sons, it’s been easy- everything is on the outside and I can easily identify- “That’s your penis” etc. However, with my daughter… a vagina is inside, then there’s the labia. How do I teach proper names when I’m still unsure of it all because I’m still learning it myself? Do I just refer to it all as “genitals.”
    Thank you for any help.

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      I think when kids are young – just calling it Vagina is good enough for body safety. When kids are older you can get a diagram that you can both visually see that can help identify body parts in more detail.

      • Song says:

        I totally disagree with teaching the child that her labia and clitoris are her vagina. Why would you teach a child incorrect names for their body parts? How can the child explain things if they don’t know what to call it , and they need help. As in “mom, daddy had his hand in/on my vagina” when really he had his hand on her labia while washing her with a washcloth.” And why teach little kids the wrong names for things and then try to correct that learning later? Very confusing. Kids can learn other body part’s names – like eyes, nose, tongue (which is inside and the stomach too) and they can learn the correct names for their genitalia.

  21. Timi K. says:

    Hi there,

    I really loved this article, it did cover everything did not even thought about. But please help me here, I have a 5 year old who is too open, too naive, too sweet and just wants to be loved and accepted. I am worried about her, as I know she could be abused very easily. AS of right now I am doing my best to keep an eye on her all the time, but soon she will be doing playdates outside the house a lot.. How do i talk to her to really understand it? I have told her many times about private parts, and no-one seeing them naked/half naked, but she will just throw herself at any of our friends, sit on male friends’ lap…. She just doesn’t get it.. In the meantime I don’t want to scare her as she is very sensitive..


    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Hi Timi,
      Sounds like you are doing a great job educating your daughter. Unfortunately little kids aren’t going to get it right away. It takes lots of reminders. You can do this in a way that is not scary. Talk about respecting people’s space. I talk to kids about “body bubbles.” When they are too close – I say things like, “You are in my body bubble.” This helps them learn some boundaries.

      Also – it is good to review body safety in a more natural context. When you give your daughter a bath, that is a great time to remind her that no one else should touch her private parts or ask her to touch their private parts.

  22. Tralyn says:

    Great article offering tools that might keep kids safer. As we know predators are cunning & many brutal so even if a child does all things they have learned they can still be preyed upon.

    Also, going to the bathroom as a way to get out of an isolated situation seems to be another isolated location for victimization.

    I embrace the whole “I am the boss of my body” and yet one some level I wonder if a child believes this & is still preyed on will they feel they are more at fault because ‘they’ were the boss & failed to keep themselves safe? Anyway, just my thoughts on how the little ones always internalize life events. Thanks for sharing.

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      Hi Tralyn,
      Thanks for your insight. You definitely bring up some great points.

      When I teach kids to tell the predator they need to go to the bathroom, I am telling them to lie. You should make it clear to your children that they should leave the isolated area and go directly to a trusted adult.

      I agree with your point that it can be a slippery slope when empowering kids in regards to an issue they cannot fully control. I think it is important to reiterate to kids that they are children and no matter what happens to them it is never their fault.

      I do not suggest we should empower kids by telling them that if they physically fight they can keep themselves safe, as that is not always the case.

      I do suggest that we teach kids how to spot early indicators of sexual abuse so they are not naive and cannot be easily manipulated into an abusive situation.

      I recognize that we cannot completely keep our kids safe – and they cannot completely keep themselves safe. I think it is our job, as parents, to at least do our part in educating our kids about this rampant epidemic. Especially since most of the time predators are people they know and often trust.

  23. […] Do You Teach Your Kids Body Safety? 10 Things They Should Know! says: August 21, 2016 at 2:43 pm […]

  24. Di_ says:

    I know I’m late to this, but I only just found this article. It’s a very good article, BTW–I’m childfree but this is good stuff to be ready to tell any child. I especially like the one about telling a kid that even a “bad touch” can feel good, it’s a shame how many survivors feel guilt, or think their pain isn’t real, if they felt any physical pleasure.

    Just one thing: You may want to add that children should also tell you if someone shows them pictures of other peoples’ private parts. Pornography is often used to attract and groom (pre-)teen boys, but it could also be shown to a child as proof that “These people did it, so it’s OK,” or even help your child know when another child is being abused (if they show your child porn) so they can be helped. And of course, they should be taught if another kid is being hurt, it’s OK to tell you.

    What goes along with this, of course, is knowing how to differentiate between predatory behavior and the natural sexual curiosity of youth. Don’t shame them for curiosity, instead, make sure they know that those feelings are natural, but those materials are for adults only, that they are entertainment and NOT a how-to manual, and that the things they saw should only ever be done by adults, and only if everyone is OK with it (yay, the “consent” talk!). Also, no matter how you feel about porn, do not tell them the performers are bad, dirty, whatever–if your opinion is that the performers are doing something wrong or have made a bad decision, say THAT. If your child misbehaved you wouldn’t call them “a bad kid,” so don’t do that with anyone else.

    Thanks again for the article, I’ll be sharing it!

    • Natasha Daniels says:

      It is never too late to add to the discussion. You bring up some great points! You are right, so many perpetrators groom by showing pornographic pictures to kids. I am going to definitely add that to #5. Thanks for pointing that out. I also agree that we don’t want to shame our kids for their natural sexual curiousity. Thanks for adding your insight into the conversation.

  25. anthony buoniconti says:

    Great Article thank you for the great tips

  26. Thank you for writing this! I’ve talked with my son several times about this but you brought up some points that I hadn’t thought about! Thanks again 🙂

  27. Corrine J. says:

    When our daughter was 11,i had the talk with her and covered everything listed here and felt she was confident to handle herself.When she was 12,just 3 months shy of turning 13,she finially made her First Communion with the class of 2nd graders.I dressed her in the traditional,poofy,communion dress and veil,lace anklets and white shoes and did a white undershirt with the standard white cloth communion diaper and rubberpants.Later that evening,she told me that one of our 15 year old male cousins got her alone and put his hand under her dress and felt the diaper and rubberpants and tried to rub his hand over her crotch.Remembering what i had told her,she walked away from the cousin and went to her room!

  28. Kj says:

    Great article

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