If your child begged to go out to play on a cold, rainy day, what would you be sure they were wearing? How about a warm sweater, woolly socks, a sturdy raincoat, tall rubber boots, and big umbrella?
Those items are protective factors that will keep you child cozy and dry enough to enjoy the stormy day without being miserable or getting sick.
The environment our kids are growing up in now is a downpour of blatantly sexual media, technology gone rogue, and predatory behavior! We can’t stop the deluge or keep our kids secluded inside forever, but we CAN equip them with protective factors that will help them thrive even in this turbulent world.
Research has identified both protective factors that help children thrive, and risk factors that lead to problems for kids. When it comes to raising a family, smart parents intentionally increase the protective factors and decrease the risk factors.
What are the most powerful things you could do in those 9 minutes?
Each day, children need meaningful eye-to-eye conversations with a parent who listens and responds with love. And a simple touch makes kids feel connected to a parent in ways that words never will. Hug your child, straighten her hair, pat him on the back and say you are proud of him every day. It’s the little things that can make a real difference for kids – a smile, a hug, or an affirmation.
This protective factor of a consistent relationship with caring adults actually helps infant’s brains develop best and children’s bodies produce the right amount of growth hormones. And so much more!
Knowledge of parenting and child development
Young children have their own timelines for walking, talking, potty training, tying shoes, and reading. At the same time, there is a general developmental path for growing kids. Parents who understand childhood stages of development can celebrate new milestones rather than express frustration such as “What is wrong with you?” or “It’s about time!”
As a seasoned teacher, I taught a few thousand kids ranging from Pre-K to 5th grade. But in 15 years, I only sent a handful of kids to the principal’s office! The highly effective method I implemented for behavior management was Love and Logic. This proven method of empowering kids to make their own choices and live with the natural consequences is tried and true. Check it out!
“Have you wanted to talk to your kids about pornography, but didn’t know what to say?! I’ve felt that way for quite some time and finally found a solution – Good Pictures Bad Pictures. . . I highly recommend this book to all people with children. A must have for all parents!” – Amazon Review. CLICK HERE to learn more about Good Pictures Bad Pictures: Porn-Proofing Today’s Young Kids.
Resilient people adapt well when faced with adversity, trauma, tragedy, or even everyday stress. It means “bouncing back” from difficult experiences.
My mom was a pastoral counselor for about 20 years. She worked with over a 1000 people seeking to grow and heal through counseling because they were “sick and tired of being sick and tired.” One of the most important revelations she realized was that unrealistic expectations are premeditated resentment. Maintaining realistic expectations is one way to be resilient when life surprises us!
Pretty much every family will have unexpected challenges at some point. Being open to finding and asking for help from friends, professionals, or other resources can make the difference between staying stuck or making progress. Even helpful resources such as books, workshops, and support groups can be lifesavers.
One serious problem too many families face today is caring for a child who has experienced sexual abuse. Seeing this need , I wrote the Say NO! and TELL! books to teach boundaries and personal safety for kids to help prevent child sexual abuse. The two read-aloud children’s books are for K to 3rd grade, although they can be adapted for Pre-K to 5th grade. There is also a parent training workbook.
The three-phase approach for teaching kids personal safety:
Phase I – Teach kids general wellness with health and safety tips (e.g. nutrition and traffic or fire safety).
Phase II – Explain unique safety concepts such as boundaries and people safety.
Phase III – Introduce personal safety to prevent child sexual abuse.
All three books are toolkits full of strategies and concrete action steps. The children’s books have stories, scenarios, and solutions. Families role-play 8 positive life skills in a safe vs. unsafe scenario, which I developed from researching how abusers groom victims.
Developing a network of supportive friends and family helps build kids’ emotional health. Positive social interactions benefit the whole family, especially when going through a challenging time such as moving, divorce or other risk factors.
Families often need to be proactive about building relationships today, when so many modern realities such as technology can isolate people.
How is your family doing with these protective factors? Which one do you want to strengthen in your home? Join us in growing the prevention movement by helping kids develop the resilience they need to succeed. The kids in generations to come will thank you!
Get your free Body Safety Toolkit for more ideas for preparing your kids to stay safe! Click the image below.
*Amazon link – this means if you purchase through this link, Protect Young Minds will get paid a small commission. So you can help a good cause and get a great product too!
Earlier this year a nation was rocked as it heard testimony against Larry Nassar (former Michigan State University faculty member) from almost 100 victims who endured sexual abuse under his care. The connection between pornography and child sexual abuse cannot be understated! This week author and child health educator, Kimberly Perry, joins us to teach parents how they can protect children from abusive encounters.
One lesson we’ve learned from the #MeToo movement is how difficult it is for victims to speak up and tell someone about sexual harassment or abuse. This became particularly evident at the Larry Nassar trial when dozens of former gymnasts came forward to recount details of the sexual abuse that had been kept hidden since childhood (victims include Olympic superstars Simone Biles, Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas).
When victims feel they have no voice
Anyone who has suffered abuse knows that the accompanying shame acts like a prison. Victims can feel as if their voice has been stolen and they can’t speak out. Adding to their shame is the fact that most know their abuser well and feel controlled by them. This is another reason children rarely speak up. Consider this real life example from a friend of mine:
“When I was thirteen years old, I babysat for a family down the street. The dad stayed home in the day to work and propositioned me and inappropriately touched me. I told him I would tell, and he told me he would tell my parents that I was sneaking out at night (which he knew that I was doing). So, I said nothing to my parents…The effects of that initial encounter were many. I turned into a different little girl. It was like a switch had been turned on that I couldn’t turn off as I couldn’t stop thinking about sex and desiring it, even though I didn’t understand it.”
The damage of not telling anyone until her senior year in high school was so painful to keep that bottled up inside. She spent years in shame, believing the lies that “God did not love her” and “it was her fault.” She had no voice.
A strategy to break the cycle of silence
What if we all went on the offensive by teaching personal safety, rather than playing defense? I wonder how my friend’s life may have been different had someone taught her personal safety when she was young. Would she have told someone sooner? Could she have suffered less?
To give children a voice and help prevent child sexual abuse, it’s important that parents begin training about boundaries and personal safety starting as early as the preschool years.
Personal safety is a comprehensive approach to preventing both physical and non-physical child sexual abuse (showing pornography to a child is an example of non-physical sexual abuse). After teaching personal safety to hundreds of children in public schools in Michigan, I was inspired to write the Say “NO!” and TELL! books. These are read-aloud books for girls and boys. The books are designed to reinforce the following important steps:
Three ways to teach personal safety to young children
Step 1: Introduce concepts of personal safety
The first step to empowering a child is to introduce them to the concept of personal safety. Be sure to use child-friendly language to help them understand big concepts while preserving their innocence. For example, one premise of personal safety covered in the Say “NO!” and TELL! books is that “your body belongs to you!” Another concept children need to learn is establishing boundaries.
Step 2: Role-play concepts of personal safety
In a health class, rehearsing and role-play are powerful tools that help children and teens build confidence when peer pressure arises at any given time. The same impact can be experienced at home as you train your own children about the harms of pornography, boundaries, and personal safety.
The Say “NO!” and TELL! books include script scenarios for parents to role-play with children (see one below). Acting out situations will help your voice to stand out above the often confusing message kids constantly get via popular culture. According to Kristen Jenson, author of the Good Pictures Bad Pictures books, “The true genius of the Say “NO!” and TELL! books is the scenarios section providing eight relevant scenarios and practical tools for grown-ups to practice and role play with the child.”
Each example includes a safe scenario and unsafe scenario with discussion questions to follow. Here’s Scenario #3: Guarded Eyes vs. Unguarded Eyes
Guarded Eyes: You are out with your family. While you and your friends are taking pictures of the colorful butterfly garden with your smartphones, an older neighbor from home sees you and asks, “May we take a group picture together with the flowers behind us?”
SAFE! It is safe to see and say, “Sure, we can all take a picture together as a group, so we have this fun memory of the butterfly garden.”
Unguarded Eyes: You are out with your family. While you and your friends are taking pictures of the colorful butterfly garden with your smartphones, an older neighbor from home comes up to you and secretly says, “Come over here and look at this picture I found on my smartphone of someone naked.”
UNSAFE! Say “NO!” to seeing pictures or videos of private parts and TELL! It is not okay (unsafe to see) if someone tries to show you pictures or videos of someone naked (without clothes on or nudity) whether it is in a magazine, book, camera, smartphone, computer or Internet. This can make a harmful memory.
Step 3: Reinforce personal safety with a family plan
The third step is have a communication tool that invites and involves collaboration between child and parent from the beginning. (Get your free Personal Safety Family Plan template at We Stand Guard. This one page document is printable for your family to write personalized information to be easily referenced anywhere in your home.)
An effective plan outlines ways to empower your family. Your plan should teach children what to do, who to call and how to get help if anything inappropriate happens. Making a plan with children helps them take ownership of this valuable safety tool. And they’ll know they have permission to tell you anything, no matter how uncomfortable the situation.
Pornography is the world’s largest sexual abuser of children
In today’s hyper-sexualized culture, pornographers are targeting children, along with teens, men and women. Childhood exposure to pornography is a form of non-physical sexual abuse. Children and teens can be groomed to become victims or perpetrators by what they see in pornography. But by preparing children early to understand boundaries and recognize danger, we can give them a voice against sexual abuse in all its forms.
In addition to the three excellent strategies outlined by Kimberly Perry, we invite you to claim your FREE Body Safety Toolkit. You can use this guide to help kids create a Body Safety Plan Click on the link below:
Of course, creating a body safety plan cannot prevent all types of child sexual abuse. We reiterate: Teaching kids concepts of personal safety is not intended to place the responsibility of abuse prevention on the child. Child abuse is NEVER the fault of a child. The most important thing parents can do is to help children know they are continually and unconditionally loved.
Led by Kristen A. Jenson, author of the best-selling children’s book Good Pictures Bad Pictures, Protect Young Minds™ (PYM) seeks to help parents “porn-proof” their kids before they come across highly addictive and easily accessible internet pornography.