I’ve hung out with enough boys to know that when you get a group together, they tend to evolve to the lowest common denominator and sex, poop and fart jokes seem to always be on the agenda. On their own they are sweet, upstanding men, but put them together and the bottom dwelling humor emerges and rather than stand up to their peers, they laugh or ignore it. We know the pressure to fit in and be accepted is a strong force for teens and pre-teens so rather than trying to change boys, this is for the girls. How do we encourage our daughters to stand up for themselves when the guys cross the line and make inappropriate sexual comments, online or in person?
- Have open discussions with them about sexuality, puberty, healthy relationships, etc. They will need vocabulary words and the belief that it’s ok to use them.
- Model for your daughter by standing up for yourself on non-sexual issues. Explain to your friend why her off-color remark left you feeling uncomfortable. Be clear with telemarketers that you aren’t interested in over-the-phone solicitations, without giving excuses or reasons. Practice boundary setting in your life, kindly and politely.
- Teach her to listen to her instincts when it comes to appropriate and inappropriate content. Have her come to you if she sees or hears something that makes her feel “weird” uh-oh” “funny” or “gross”. Help her keep those boundaries tight so her instincts send out alarm bells when something violates them.
- Use the tickling/wrestling/horse-play time with her siblings to demonstrate that her words have power. When she says “No” or “stop it” make sure the play stops and her sibling respects her words. Even if she didn’t want it to stop, it will teach her to expect her words to be heard and respected.
- Role play with her. You be the gross kid making crude remarks and let her practice saying “That’s disgusting”. Have her pretend to tell another adult what she is seeing and practicing saying NO and STOP, calmly but seriously, like she means it.