A child’s ability to utilise her intuition is a crucial factor in protecting her from sexual abuse. Intuition helps a child to make independent decisions and to steer away from potential danger. Intuition can help a child become confident and wise, knowing that the tools needed to conquer the unknown and unknowable are always at hand. Parents often dismiss or override a child’s natural attempts to use intuition, but with support and guidance, intuition can be sharpened by our use of it.

I have witnessed time and time again, parents chastising their young children for shying away from the approaches of an unfamiliar person and then apologising to the stranger for the child’s rudeness or making some excuse to explain the “silly” behaviour. No sooner have we lectured them about the importance of being polite to Mr Bloggs, the store owner (and stranger), we then instruct them “Don’t talk to strangers!” This contradiction is highly confusing and suppresses the natural instincts of stranger awareness. By telling children it is socially desirable to interact in a polite manner with strangers despite their natural feelings of anxiousness, we rob them of a vital safety tool.

Taught to dismiss her instincts, the child quickly learns by example and her own experiences that being polite brings praise and rewards whereas being “rude” or shying away results in disapproval. Discounting her own powerful inner feelings and adopting the “Don’t be rude” messages, she learns to ignore her danger detectors. Consequently, a vital element in the ability to make correct judgements of people and to think for herself is lost.

The cultural drive to compel children to always be polite and sociable towards adults is a colossal concern when considering the threat from paedophiles. Children naturally want to do what is right and to fit in with the culture of which they are a part, therefore, well-mannered and respectful interactions with others does not need to be forced upon them as they will learn by your example and apply it accordingly.

Ways to encourage and assist children to develop and trust their intuition:

  • Praise and encourage them for trusting and acting on their inner voice and feelings.
    For example, “I could see that you did not feel comfortable jumping off the top of the slide like the other kids. And I am so pleased you listened to your feelings and did what was right for you instead of just doing what the other kids were doing.”
  • Help your children develop a healthy internal dialogue.
    Build positivity and a strong self-esteem. Positive affirmations are an excellent way to teach children healthy internal dialogue. In times of stress or in a situation where their survival is at stake, positive self talk could be the element that enables them to cope and make constructive, confident decisions. There are many great products available and I would recommend the “I am a Lovable Me” series, which is a winner of the Mom’s Choice Award and is fantastic for children under five years. For children over five and up to teenagers, I would recommend the Indigo Dreams audio series which is designed to decrease stress, anger and anxiety while increasing self-esteem and self-awareness. They include breathing, visualisation, affirmation and relaxation exercises.
  • Model the use of your own intuitive powers.
    The best way to do this is to nurture and be openly expressive in the use of your own intuition. Express your feelings and hunches. For example, “You know honey, I felt a little scared when I heard that big dog barking at us and my heart is really pounding now!” Describe experiences where you may have acted on a hunch or had a “feeling” about a certain person or situation and include the intuitive bodily sensations such as goose bumps, butterflies in the tummy, chills and other physical sensations. Talk about your dreams and get into the habit of asking your children what they dreamt of during the night.
  • Never make your child feel ashamed or apologise for acting on their intuitive feelings.
    Always be your child’s greatest advocate, even if their behaviour at the time is considered socially unacceptable. We can respect our children’s boundaries and help them to develop social skills at their own pace, while not diminishing the value of their intuition. It is important to respect the feelings that belong to each individual child and whatever the particular feeling they are experiencing, whether it is fear of the school toilet or your Aunt Mary’s cat Twinkles, that feeling is right for that child. Practical ways to encourage intuition
  • Play games.
    Play the “What would you do, if…” game. Play games which involve solving problems that do not have straightforward solutions, e.g., Twister, Rubix Cube, Sodoku, Mastermind, etc. Play games requiring children to make connections which require paying attention to detail, e.g., Battleships, Guess Who?, Where’s Wally?, Checkers, I Spy, jigsaw puzzles, etc. Play games which require attention to non-verbal cues, e.g., Charades, Who am I?, etc. Play hide-and-seek and chasey. Tell stories of your childhood and your family and read fairy tales – intuition, imagination and creativity are all closely related. Play computer games which encourage quick thinking, anticipating an outcome and problem solving. Play chess. Encourage artistic expression, e.g., painting, acting, and music.
  • Practise meditation and relaxation.
    These are essential for children to tap into their intuitive abilities as well as being an excellent practice for life. Thomas Jefferson said “Be a listener only…and endeavour to establish with yourself the habit of silence”. There are many excellent guided mediation and relaxation audio products for children.
  • Turn off the television, radio and computer.
    They all distract children from their internal world. Spend more time conversing and interacting as a family.
  • Rational thought is not a good reason to dismiss or ignore intuition.
    Intuition is a message from the subconscious mind whose database outweighs the conscious mind by 10 billion to one. Yes, it’s 10 billion times bigger! We should pay more attention to its messages, don’t you think? Intuition is a human quality that can be cultivated, utilised and accessed at will, just like any other human trait, such as optimism, patience, tolerance, courage and peace. Teaching children how to consciously use it as a tool for safety, guidance and survival is an essential ingredient in providing them with protection from sexual abuse. It is also important to find ways to re-connect, re-remember and utilise the powers of your own other-than-conscious mind so that you can protect yourself and your family. Our reactions and behaviour to any given situation may be expressed in two ways, by instinct and by intellect. When we hone both, our ability to protect ourselves, our families and others increases dramatically.

Our children’s primary source of information about the world they are part of and the dangers within it come from you – the parent. Every interaction, conversation and situation you experience in company with your children is an opportunity to model safe, respectful and intuitive behaviour. Each situation is a chance to prompt discussion about your child’s inner feelings, e.g., “How did that make you feel when that man touched you on the shoulder?” and to encourage them to honour those feelings and intuitions. If you ask your young child how she felt about the approaches of an unfamiliar person, nine times out of ten she will express feelings of being anxious or uncomfortable with the experience. Once her inner compass is strong and her self-regulation has sufficiently matured, then you can start to focus on correct social etiquette. In the interim, allow and encourage her to develop and trust in her powerful instincts. I know I would prefer my child to learn that it was okay to say “No” before she learnt that it is polite to say “Yes”.