What is Good Touch and Bad Touch?

As part of our five senses, the gift of touch is a way we make sense of the world and send and receive messages. But in a world where touch can sometimes be less than innocent, how do we protect our kids especially when we can’t always be with them? 

Early years (0-3)

Teaching our kids about good and bad touch is a conversation that we can start from the early years. As you teach your kids proper names for their body parts and things like not walking around naked, you are laying a great foundation for their young minds to learn both social norms and body safety. 
At this age, you can also introduce the idea of good touch and bad touch as an easy-to-understand framework that you can build on as they grow. 
Good touch can be high-fives, handholding and even hugs from family and friends. Bad touch can be touches that leave bruises (hitting, pushing, kicking…etc) and any unwanted touch from another person, especially in the private areas.  
Avoid defining good touch as whatever makes you feel good since this can be used out-of-context. Abusers have also been known to exploit this ideal by first starting with innocent tickles, before moving on to sexual abuse.  
Instead, first define good and bad touch as areas that can be touched and areas that cannot. An easy visual reference for “no touch” areas is everywhere that’s covered when you wear a singlet and shorts. 
Then expand it further by helping to grow your child’s voice. Teach them that they can say no to being touched and to move away from the person or call for help if they feel uncomfortable. Nurture your child’s confidence to say no by also respecting their wishes. Never force them to hug or kiss anyone, even with relatives.  
Keep the language you use straightforward and simple:  
“Can anyone touch you in a no-touch area? “No!”  
“If someone hugs you and you don’t like it, what do you say? No!”   
You should also help them recognise the safe adults in their lives, e.g., immediate family members. If there are other adults in that circle, you may also want to define what is allowed and what is not e.g., a teacher can help bring you to the toilet but can’t touch your private areas.  
Make it very clear to your kids that no one should show their private parts to them and no one should see or touch their private areas

Preschool years (4-6) 

Your child may be attending daycare now and may need help with toileting so it will be good to run through some specific scenarios with them.  

Role-play is a powerful teaching tool for young kids. You may want to go through: 

  • What’s okay and not okay during shower time at school  
  • How to get help cleaning up if they passed motion 
  • What to do if someone peeks at them when they are in the toilet 

Find out from the school how they handle these scenarios too to avoid confusion. 

Empower them with handles on what to do if an adult does something they are not comfortable with, for example: 

Say “I don’t like that”, find daddy, mummy or a trusted adult and tell them what happened, and how they feel e.g., “I don’t like Uncle trying to kiss me”.   

Of course, these responses should change if it involves any touching of their private areas. You may want to tell your kids that if anyone touches your private parts, shout “Stop! Go away” and “Help” very loudly. 

Consistent repetition of these body safety rules will help them remember it.   

You may also want to teach them not to sit on other adults’ laps but to sit next to them instead. 

Primary years (7-9) 

By primary school age, you can also include the idea of peer pressure when it comes to expanding the idea of good touch and bad touch. Taper your questions according to their level of maturity too. Role-play questions now may include “If your friend says that a boyfriend/ girlfriend can touch each other in the no-touch area, what would you say?” 

They may also be exposed to words like “molest” from friends who have had such encounters. To ensure your child knows they can always come and talk to you about anything, never sound suspicious or fear-monger. Instead, communicate calmly and frequently, using movies and news to spark conversations. Listen attentively to them, without jumping to conclusions or judgment too quickly. 
Teach your kids that bad touch can happen unexpectedly so they should be conscious of their surroundings, especially when they are alone. Also talk about and role-play what to do if they are unexpectedly touched in a public place

Conversations About Sex Need Not Be So Tough

Research shows that when parents engage their children in topics on sexuality, their children grow to make wiser choices in relationships and sex. To help you overcome your fears in broaching the topic, we have designed a Talk About Sex video series specially for parent and child (aged 7-12) to enjoy, engage with and learn together!

Post-Natal Care: What Should I Be Ready For?

Being a mum for the first time can be exciting yet nerve-wrecking. As much as we look forward to finally holding the baby we’ve been carrying and growing together with for 9 months, we often grapple with doubts and fears on whether we will be good mothers. Here are some tips to help us ease into this new season of the 4th trimester. 

It’s the hormones!

After delivery, our body goes through a huge and sometimes traumatic change; after all a human did come out from us! Our hormones become highly dysregulated and that can cause us to feel varying emotions all at once. 

I remember crying for no reason on the second day of confinement and feeling happy the next minute, as if nothing had happened. I was shocked by my own emotions and thought that something was wrong with me.

I was also particularly upset with everyone in the household even though no one had done anything to provoke me. Everything somehow seemed to annoy me. After speaking with some mums, I came to understand that our hormones go haywire after delivery, and it will take some time for them to regulate. 

It helps when we expect these changes and recognise that it is often a phase that will pass in a couple of weeks. However, if negative emotions persist, do seek support from a trusted family member, friend or counsellor 

It is okay to say, “I don’t know either.”

Something that caused me a lot of stress was the expectation from everyone that I have all the answers. I did not know how anxiety-provoking it was until everyone around me asked all sorts of questions: When can I bathe the baby? What time is the next feed? How much should I feed? Why is the baby crying? Is he hungry? Is he feeling cold? Why didn’t he finish his milk?  

While we do have a mother’s instincts, we also need to communicate to people around us that we do not have the answers all the time. We are all learning as we go.

It felt like I became a “baby-encyclopedia” the moment my son was born, and all the answers had to come from me. However, we need to remember that we are as new to the baby as they are. While we do have a mother’s instincts, we also need to communicate to people around us that we do not have the answers all the time. We are all learning as we go.  

Coming up with a system that everyone could follow was helpful. We wrote feed timings and amounts on the glass door and everyone followed as closely as possible. We also included nap times and their duration as we observed them, and soon we got the hang of taking care of a newborn.

Real life vs. reel life

It is becoming a norm for people to exaggerate or overly beautify a part of their lives, especially on social media. As mums, it is inevitable that we compare ourselves with other mums, more so when we start scrolling on social media platforms and see other mums seemingly “having it all together”.  

This can cause us to feel insecure about ourselves and brings unnecessary stress. As we unwind on social media, we also need to be vigilant about what we are seeing and believing. 

I’ve always gone by the principle that what I see online is what others choose to show me. It may not be a full representation of their situation. This awareness is important so that we do not strive to “look-good-feel-good” online and ignore the struggles that we are facing. We need to acknowledge the place where we are at and be real with ourselves.  

When I was in the initial phase of breastfeeding my boy, I often came across social media posts of mums easily expressing breastmilk and how their babies were latching well. On the other hand, I was suffering from engorgement, my baby wasn’t latching well, and I struggled to even produce enough milk for a feed.  

I felt so terrible about myself, and thought that I must be the worst mum ever to not be able to breastfeed my baby. It was consuming me from within, and I decided to stop viewing such posts. Instead, I looked for community among mum friends who went through similar situations. It helped me feel much better since there were people to cry out to in the middle of the night as we journeyed together. 

You can ask for help

  • What brings you most joy in our marriage? 
  • What is one thing you would like me to do regularly to show how much I appreciate you? 
  • How can we grow in the areas of physical and emotional intimacy in our marriage? 

You can ask for help

As mums, it can be difficult to ask for help. It could be because there is a lack of resources available, or you feel uneasy about the way others might handle your baby. We might also believe that we have everything under control. 

While it does seem easier to be the one taking care of your baby since you are the main caregiver, we also need to keep a lookout for our mental health. Transiting from a world where you get to decide almost everything for yourself, to one where it revolves around your newborn, is a difficult process. 

It is impossible for any mum to be able to meet both their baby’s needs and their own needs at the same time. More often than not, we forgo our needs because we are so caught up with taking care of our baby. However, a prolonged negligence of our own self-care can leave us feeling empty and resentful.  

We need to ask for help whenever possible so that we can have some much-needed rest and come back with our hearts fuller to continue caring for our baby.

We need to ask for help whenever possible so that we can have some much-needed rest and come back with our hearts fuller to continue caring for our baby. This could be in the form of approaching your parents, in-laws or close friends to come over and watch your baby while you take a short nap or even a stroll nearby.

There is no shame in seeking for support because we are all humans with physical limitations. Mums are not superheroes, we are also people who need to eat, sleep and bathe! 

My hope is that the above has helped shed some light on what to expect as a first-time mum, and even more so how to care for yourself. You can only give what you have, and not what you don’t!