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You’ve probably heard the word “grooming” or “conditioning” used in reference to the way a molester will build up rapport with your child and condition them towards sexual acts. Although we still use this term on occasion ourselves, it’s been our experience that ‘grooming’ in the traditional description for which it is used, is more myth than fact. Very few molesters set out with a pre-conceived plan to molest your child. Most love children in a paternal sense as well, and start out with no ulterior motives in mind. But as they grow more acquainted and attached to a child, it becomes harder to control their urges. Also, as both adult and child become more attached, the child is likely to display affection that a pedophile will perceive as sexual desire. Researchers have observed this progression, and not quite understanding it fully, have coined the word “grooming.” In actuality it has little to do with a pre-conceived plan, more accurately it’s the natural progression of the relationship that can ultimately lead to a molestation.

That said, there are a few cases out there where grooming in its traditional sense does apply. There is also an element of coaching and persuasion that exists in nearly all cases of abuse, and children need to be able to withstand that pressure.

Between Gifts and Bribes

Start off by teaching children the difference between gifts and bribes. Tell them that gifts are something someone gives you because they want to be nice. Bribes are something someone gives you because they want something from you in return. Almost all bribes are bad, and we should never accept a bribe without checking with our parents first.

Trying New Things

Tell your kids that it’s OK to try new things, in fact, it’s good to try new things. But there are some things we shouldn’t try even once. So whenever we try something new, we should check with our parents or other adults (other than the adult who is trying to persuade us) to make sure it’s a good thing to try. Also, whenever we try something new, we should be able to tell everyone about it.

I Want to be Like …

Take note of those people in your child’s life whom they admire and worship. Talk about what great qualities the person has, but also remind them that as great as this person is, they aren’t perfect. Children still need to do what’s good and right by themselves, not just automatically copy what someone else does, even if it’s someone they admire. Other people may like to do things we won’t like, and that’s OK. We can still admire them for the qualities we like, without having to do everything exactly as they do.

Role Playing

Play with your children using different persuasions. Think up something bad you want them to do, (real or silly), and try to coax them into it just as a molester might: “We’ll be best friends forever,” “I will give you some candy if you try it,” etc. Have the kids practice standing their ground and telling you no.

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