With the #metoo movement filling our social media feeds, people are bravely coming forward to share things that they haven’t talked about much before now. As this movement has taken shape and many men and women have spoken out, I’ve see a huge response of people asking how to respond to the me too movement.
Over the last few days I have seen how this movement has caused a huge desire in parents to change the narrative for our kids. I have a friend starting the #butnotthem hashtag, as a way of joining together as parents to make a difference in and for the next generation.
This means teaching our daughters AND our sons what consent means.
This means, having hard, awkward conversations as a family not just once but often. These conversations started in our house when the kids were two and they’ve never stopped. We’re teaching them every day, in the way that we interact with them and the way we teach them to interact with others.
Starting this conversation with a toddler or young child might sound strange, but I’ve found several books that have been a great resource in our home.
These books have been immensely helpful in our home as we seek to start these conversations with our son and our daughter at a very young age.
These books are bright, colorful and fun. But they introduce huge, weighty topics to children in a way that they can understand and a way that you can continue to use throughout your daily life with the kids.
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This book has started a lot of conversations in our home and is where we started the conversation with our kids. We bought this book when our oldest was two and we’ve been using it ever since. This book helps you teach your child that their body is theirs. You can see how this is great for abuse-prevention, because it helps kids understand that no one can touch them without them saying it’s okay.
This phrasing “your body belongs to you” and “my body belongs to me” has found its way into every aspect of our lives. We don’t hit/kick/push because that person’s body belongs to them and we need to respect their body. It’s small, it subtle, but it does a LOT to start empowering your kids to have control of their own bodies.
This is another great book that I found to be appropriate for toddlers. While the earlier book kept things a little bit more vague, this one uses fish to talk specifically about keeping private parts private. This book shows how the “parts where you bathing suit touch” are private to you.
This fun “comic book style” book tells the story of Miles. He gets a little overwhelmed with attention from his family during his birthday and declares himself boss of his body. His family responds with lots of support and empowerment. It’s a great story to share with kids as a way to show them that they have a voice and will be supported and believed.
This book goes into a little more detail about “good touching” and “bad touching” by teaching a thumbs up and thumbs down system. Since it is more detailed, I have found it to be more appropriate for younger Elementary age children. This book also specifically addresses a “no secrets” family rule that is important for kids to know and tells kids that it is never their fault if they get an “uh-oh” feeling from anyone. Since this book starts talking about what to do in these situations, I thought it went beyond what a toddler might understand but a preschooler or elementary student could get a lot of help from this book in knowing how to handle challenging situations.
The child on the front of this book looks angry, but the book is filled with lots of positive messages for kids. This book goes into a lot of detail and answers questions your older child might be having. Because of the amount of information, I feel this one is most appropriate for Elementary age children. This book talks about how doctors and caregivers are allowed to sometimes touch or examine private parts, but also in what contexts this is okay in and why.
This book also covers how to deal with inappropriate behavior from some one else, even if they are an adult, how to get help and even what to do if you aren’t listened to the first time you ask for help.
This is the type of book that you hope your child will never have to need, but it opens up really important conversations and addresses questions your child might be having.
There are so many other great books and resources about how to approach these topics with your young kids. I would encourage you to look at some today.
Many people, myself included, are feeling overwhelmed at the number of “me too” responses happening online right now. There is so much pain, everywhere I look, but it has served as a great reminder to teach my children a better way and open up the lines of communication that will be there through every season of their lives.
If you purchase one of these books for your child, they can also be used as a great resource to talk to other adults and family members who care for your child about changes you might be making with your child as you teach them that they have control of their own bodies. This is a great way to make sure that your child has a huge support system in place, all giving them the same, life-giving message of empowerment.