5 tips on talking to kids about appropriate touch and other sex related things.

Sexual abuse happens, it is a real thing. Abuse happens at school, on the bus, at church, at a friend’s house, even in our own homes. So lets talk real, no beating around the bush. Do we live in a spirit of fear? If you have the Lord Jesus in your heart, NO! Renounce that spirit of fear in the name of Jesus. But we will not live with our heads buried in the sand and our fingers in a our ears saying “la la la la, I can’t hear you!” (Anyone else ever done this?! I have!) Rather we become aware of the reality of this issue and then we equip our kids with knowledge and a plan.

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5 Tips:

  1. Look for everyday teaching moments

  2. Read books

  3. Give them a plan

  4. Ask questions

  5. Don’t freak out

1. Look for everyday teaching moments.

Once when my son was about 3 years old, just fresh out of the potty training stage he came to me, delighted to tell me that he found a ball in his body while he was peeing. {this is the teachable moment} I remember being surprised but determined not to let this pass. So I took him to the bathroom and asked him to show me, sure enough he had found one of his testicles. So I told him what it was called and that God had created two of them in his body for a purpose, at 3 years old it was not necessary to get into their purpose, especially since he didn’t ask. It was enough for him to know that the “ball” he found was suppose to be there. I also went on to talk to him about not playing with the ball and that if he ever had a question about his body to talk to me about it. I told him that this part of his body is private, not dirty or bad, but special so we keep it covered. I also told him that since he only uncovers that part of his body in the bathroom, that the bathroom is the place to talk about that part of his body. Again not because it’s dirty but because it’s private, so we don’t talk about it to just anyone or any where. One challenge with telling young {talking} children about body parts is that in their innocence they have no filter, thus the reason we teach our little talkers to not talk about these body parts unless we are in the bathroom. Which reminds me of another very funny story. A different son, also fresh out of the potty training stage, having learned the name of his man parts, enjoyed saying the word. I quickly gave him the talk about not talking about private body parts unless we are in the bathroom. He promptly turned and went into the bathroom and at the top of his lungs very happily shouted “Penis” over and over again while he was peeing. Not sure if it was a mom fail or a success story, but either way he got the point, sort of! LOL

“Finding everyday moments to talk to your kids about their sexuality creates a safe and well worn pathway between you and them on the topic of sex.”

— Christi Stoner

2. Read books

I have made a conscious effort to find books to read to my kids about their sexuality and appropriate touch. I start reading these books to them before they can even talk in sentences. I want this to be their normal. That we talk about this stuff in safe ways. I want words like penis, vagina, breast, porn, appropriate touch, etc. to be part of their normal vocabulary just like arm, leg, fingers, etc. It is something that I have to make normal. It’s not natural for me to say the names of private body parts, I have to put on a straight face. But if I act like these parts are bad or dirty, what is that teaching my children? I make effort to speak these words as if it was “arm” or “leg” that I was saying. If they are not hearing it from us they will hear it from peers and you know the damage that learning this stuff from peers can cause, probably because, if you are like me, you learned about this stuff from your peers. Again, just because we talk about these words does not mean we fling them around carelessly. We believe that God created these body parts to be sacred not to be part of crude jokes. Reading about this stuff in books is a great way to expose kids to proper terms. Reading books helps educate our kids on what is normal and ok. If someone touches them and then tells them it’s okay and not to tell anyone, my kids know that it’s NOT ok. Why? Because we talk about it, we read books that show them a different story. Here are some of our favorites. First the Bible, it’s actually too graphic for my younger kids. But old testament is full of stories that are great teaching platforms, Rehab the prostitute, Samson and his poor choices of women, stories of rape and murder, King David and his lust and sin with Bathsheba…. these are all platforms that open up discussion. Ask your kids questions, their answers might surprise you. You also might find that they have the wrong answer and you get to be the one to educate them.

Some others that we own

The Story of Me (God’s Design for Sex, Book 1)This is a great starter book. Talks all the proper body part names in a very appropriate way.

What Makes a Babyis a favorite of mine because it talks about the egg and sperm without graphic drawings. Perfect for young viewers. It opens the door for really good conversations too.

I Said No! A Kid-to-kid Guide to Keeping Private Parts Private Is really great for giving kids a plan. The book was written by a mom and her son who had a friend attempted to molest him at a sleepover. This is real stuff moms, educate yourself and your babes.

Do You Have a Secret? (Let’s Talk About It!) A book that explains the difference between good secrets and bad secrets. After reading a book like this you say, “so what about you? Do you have any secret you want to tell me about?” You ask it straight, you don’t hint. Kids need to hear you ask it straight. You might be surprised at the things your little people have been told to keep a secret. My one son told me a sexual joke that was told to him, and he was told to keep it a secret. I thanked him for telling me. It was an opportunity to talk about the importance of not repeating a joke like that and also about the value of human life. I’m so glad he told me. He was only 6 years old and he heard the joke at church. Don’t bury your heads mom. Ask questions. Your little people need you to be strong and safe for them.

Good Pictures Bad Pictures Jr.: A Simple Plan to Protect Young Minds this book is an easy read that discusses pornography as well as giving your children a plan of what to do if they see porn. Great read.

3. Give them a plan

This is pretty straight forward. We start this at 2 yrs old. We tell our babes, “no one ever touches you where your diaper is except mommy and daddy.” This sets them up for knowing what is okay and not okay touch. As they get a old enough to verbalize their thoughts, we tell them “If anyone ever touches you in your private areas come and tell mommy and daddy right away, even if someone tells you not to.” Now here is the really important part, if your child does come to you, you believe them. You take steps to make them feel heard and safe, you DO NOT brush it off. You DO NOT say, “oh so and so is such a nice kid or uncle or aunt, they would never do that.” Wrong answer, NO, you trust your child. And you watch their back. You don’t always have to act on it, but you do become mindful of it. More then once our boys have come to us and told us so and so touched their bottom. We always believe them and thank them for telling us. Then we asses the situation. Sometimes the conclusion is that it was an accident due to playing. But there have been times that we have told our boys that it was not appropriate touch and then I will go and talk to the child or mom of the child to bring awareness to the situation. Sometimes it’s lack of education on the other child’s part but at the end of the day, keeping my child safe is the goal. I don’t want accidental touches to become an open door to something more damaging. And I don’t want my kids to think that it’s okay for them to touch other children’s private areas just because it happened to them. Believe it or not, these situations almost always happen at church when a large group of kids are playing unsupervised. It didn’t take long for me to lay down the law that my boys must play where I can see them at all times when there is a large group of kids. After parties or get togethers we make it a habit to debrief their time that was spent with friends while the adults talked. Often times its only good remarks of all the fun they have had. But it has happened once or twice that questionable behavior happened and it was good to talk to them about it and what should have happened etc. All this is giving our children a voice, a plan, a vision of what is normal and what is appropriate. If you never tell them how will they know?

4. Ask Questions

When I was working as a nurse, more then once I took calls from patients who were suicidal. The one thing I was taught to ask was “do you have a plan”. This might seem like it’s encouraging them, but asking the question right out actually brings some relief to the suicidal person, they are being heard and feel cared for and it opens the door for them to talk through why they are thinking suicide. {As a side note, if someone ever tells you that they do have a plan of action, call 911 or your local crisis center.}

The same goes with our kids and sexual abuse. I have already outright asked my kids if anyone has ever touched them in their private parts. I also have asked them outright if they know what porn is and if they have ever seen or willingly looked at porn. Every time I have had to fight against fear and push ahead and ask these questions. And I’m so glad I did because every time, they have all been really great conversations. I have always tried to ask these questions when everyone is at a good place mentally and emotionally, not in the moment of concern.

When one of my sons was younger I asked him if he knew what porn was. He laughed at me! He said, “mommy! YES.” I was shocked. After a moment of silence I asked him to tell me what it was. Again he laughed at me in disbelief as he said, “mommy?! Corn?! everyone knows what corn is.” This is one of those parenting moments that you say “thank you Jesus!” (Whew) We then were able to talk about porn and I discovered that I was indeed the first person to ever talk to him about it. Again, whew! Moms and dads, you WANT to be the first person to tell your kids about this stuff. My son was in second grade at the time and the conversation came up because I was recently exposed to another 2nd grader who was being shown porn by a peer. If that was happening to your child would they come and tell you about it?

5. Don’t freak out

So you’ve read the books, you’ve asked the questions, you’ve taught them the terms and looked for teachable moments…what happens when they come and tell you that something HAS happened? This is the hard part, don’t freak out! Sometimes I struggle to keep a cool head when it comes to appropriate touch. Due to my story, I can get really upset. But if our kids are telling us then it opens the door for us to step in and offer hope and healing. We might need to do research or change some things, but if we keep talking to them and keep the door open, they will be ok in the end. But if I freak out will my kid want to come tell me again? No. Especially if my child is the one in the wrong. I want them to know there is forgiveness and there is hope and that I am their advocate.

6. Educate yourself and know your story.

So I said five but here is a bonus one for you. Educate yourself. Expose yourself to teachings about how to talk to kids about healthy sexuality and healthy touch. Examine your own life and your story. Are you at a healthy spot when you think about YOUR sexuality? A question to ask is “what was it like being a girl (or boy) in your family growing up? And “was it a good thing?” You can not lead a child to a place of healing that you have never been. Anyone who knows me may already know that I was molested as a child. My view of sexuality was really confused and unhealthy for most of my childhood and teen years. (Read more about that here) By God’s grace he brought healing in my adult years through good people, and counseling, and good books. And in the midst of it all I learned to know God at deep levels and that ultimately brought my healing and validation. But my story impacts the way I raise my children. And because of my story I know that I am extra alert, I realize now that sometimes I just need to breath and step away because the situation isn’t as bad as all my internal alarms are making it seem. (This is when it’s so helpful to have a spouse on board who can tell you when you are overreacting). But I want to give my kids the tools that I didn’t have. My story also teaches me that there is always hope. I will mess up. I will miss opportunities. I will not respond the right way. I will hurt my children. But if I can keep pointing them to Jesus Christ, HE, and He alone will make all things new in their lives. That is my ultimate hope.

If you have a story of sexual abuse you might find this blog post helpful. Or if you would like to learn more about me as a photographer read here.






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