‘Have you talked to your children about boundaries so that they know how they should and shouldn’t be touched?’
I was chatting to a friend about when it’s right to talk to your child about s.e.x. We both agreed it’s probably good to introduce it earlier than you might think, because you don’t want them hearing about it from someone else in the “school playground.” Then she asked me the above question about boundaries.
Er… no. I’d never thought about that before. Cue panic!
To me, the idea of anyone touching my child in an inappropriate way is SO horrific that I dare not even think about it, never mind talk about it. But obviously, that’s not much use to my children. I’m so glad my friend raised this with me, but then I was left with the question of how to approach the topic with my children.
You can imagine how relieved I was, then, to discover this book: God Made All of Me by Justin and Lindsey Holcomb. The subtitle is ‘A Book to Help Children Protect Their Bodies,’ and that’s what it does. I read it to my (VERY sensitive) children, aged 5 and 4, and they weren’t in any way disturbed or upset by it but it definitely taught them some extremely valuable lessons.
The book is told through a family having a conversation about how precious our bodies are and that some parts are private and some are not, and some touches are appropriate and some are not, etc. There’s also an important bit about the difference between a surprise (fun) and a secret (not fun).
As I read this book, I found myself feeling quite traumatised at the thought of anyone trying to harm my child. It’s difficult to read as an adult because you have the background knowledge that some people do terrible things to children. But my children don’t really have any such knowledge or awareness, so for them it’s not a scary or upsetting book at all – and as I said, they are very sensitive children. Disney gives them nightmares.
The book also uses the foundation that God made our bodies, and that’s why they’re precious. This is always an important truth for our children to return to if they are ever unsure about how valuable they are.
The only downside of this book for me was that in the back it has a double page list of ‘Ways to Protect Your Children from Sexual Abuse,’ which is very helpful but not something I want either of my children to read. Which is why the book now lives on Mum and Dad’s bookshelf, not theirs. However, when you do read these pages you realise that the book covers this list in a clear and child-friendly way.
So I’m really thankful for this book, not least because it helped me to teach my children the right names for body parts. They were unimpressed. Even my four year old son, who would gladly talk about willies all day, when confronted with the word ‘penis’ said ‘Urgh!’
The link above tells you more about the book; I bought my copy from Ten of Those.