7 Tips for Talking to Your Elementary Schoolers About Modesty
Suggestive dance moves on kids TV channels as well as immodest clothing promote the idea that exposing yourself is no big deal. Younger elementary kids aren’t exempt from these kinds of age inappropriate messages either. While it might seem intimidating, talking to your elementary school age kids about modesty doesn’t have to be a scary thing. Most kids at this age are curious about growing up and what that means for them. They are happy to discuss it with a person that they feel they can trust.
Here are some tips for talking to your elementary schooler about modesty:
- Be sure that you have a rapport with the child. Kids will listen to someone they feel they can trust. Gaining a child’s trust really only takes showing them that you care about them by having a genuine interest in them and their well-being.
- Be honest and open. Even young children are incredibly perceptive. They will know when someone is not being completely honest with them. Researchers agree that “young people do not wake up on their 13th birthday, somehow transformed into a sexual being overnight. Even young children are sexual in some form.” Kids are exposed daily to messages of immodesty. Ignoring tough subjects that kids hear about every day other places is not helpful.
- Communicate clearly, and don’t end the discussion unless your child is ready. Fred Kaeser, Ed.D., Director of Health Services for Community School District Two in New York City and author for Psychology today says, “A majority of parents do not communicate with their kids about sex, and when they do it is usually not enough.” He goes on to say, “Poor parent-child communication only hinders the child’s ability to understand sexual matters. The good news is that when parents do communicate well, the results can be profound. In families where effective communication occurs, research shows children are less likely to experience intercourse, pregnancy, and sexually transmitted disease.”
- Teach children to value their bodies as something special that they do not share with just anyone. Meg Meeker, M.D., a renowned pediatrician and author says, “As children enter the early elementary school years, they will usually feel quite comfortable naked at home and this is fine. Again, they should not be encouraged to trot around naked but be reminded to get clothes on because their bodies are special and private. Tell them that when we like something a lot, we protect it and keep it private.”
- Boost your child’s self-esteem by complimenting his talents and abilities more than his looks. This is especially important for parents of young girls. Explain how society places too much importance on what people wear or how they look as an indication of status.
- Give her positive, modest role models. Examine your own wardrobe. Will your child see you as a modest and successful person? The National Child Traumatic Stress Network says, “What the child observes (including the sexual behaviors of family and friends)” strongly influences her sexual development. Surround your kids — or the kids in your care — with many positive role models. Friends, family, classmates, teachers and role models used in curriculum can all be examples of modesty.
- Explain your reasons for modesty. Some families may have religious reasons for desiring modesty in their children. Others may want their kids to value themselves for more than their physical appearance. Whatever your reasons, your child will value the fact that you can talk person-to-person about your thoughts. Your child knows that you provide for his physical well-being. Explain to them that you care about their modesty as part of his emotional well-being.
Communication is a key component when dealing with children as well as adults. Kids appreciate being talked to instead of being talked at. Following these tips will provide you with a good foundation on which to build principles of modesty for the children you are working to instill them in.