In the same week, Author’s Jennifer Jenkins and Samantha Paul caught my attention on a doctors’ wives Facebook group with their desire to help children learn how to talk appropriately about their bodies. I love Kickstarter and crowd funding in general! When it’s helping make available a book based on science and written for my children to be able to communicate effectively, I’m all in! As I believe any aunt, grandmother, parent, or mentor of littles will be too by the end of this post!
Jennifer Jenkins is a licensed therapist and social worker who has worked with women and children of all ages for many years. Jennifer is a mom of two girls.
Author – Samantha Paul is a stay-at-home mom doctor’s wife of two children, a girl and a boy. Samantha has a Bachelors degree in Sociology and a Minor in family life.
As a therapist, I have recommended countless parenting and children’s books over the years. I love reading and recommending books! My office, my home, and my children’s bedroom are overflowing with books on mindfulness, diversity, meditation, celebrating differences, feeling emotions, and education on so many other topics. However, recommending books on body safety was the one book that was tricky for me. Don’t get me wrong, there are a lot of options out there and some are just what a specific parent is looking for…but none of them were what I was looking for for my girls and few were what my friends and family and others that wanted recommendations were seeking. We wanted one book that had information developmentally appropriate for a younger age group. We wanted a book that did not have the author’s preferences, opinions, politics and beliefs in a book that we believed needed to be based on science. We wanted simple pictures and visuals with easy to understand words. As the reader, I wanted to be the one answering questions and adding in opinions that were specific to my own child’s development and level of understanding of the world at that time!
So while this was a distant dream of mine, it was one of those things that there just wasn’t time for right now. I run a small private practice, my children are very active in activities, we are very active in our church and charity…I just couldn’t make the space to take on such a big project even though I felt the push. Luckily, I have a brilliant friend who came to me earlier this year after some scary things had come to light locally regarding children’s safety asking for the best books to better teach her small children. I went through many book options and she wanted more…more developmentally appropriate for her children, more proper anatomy, more positivity. She also wanted less fear and fewer opinions. She asked why I couldn’t just write the book we needed so badly and when I said I don’t have time right now she suggested that we do it together!
Our book is based on:
Knowing and using proper anatomical terms is so important! I know it can be uncomfortable especially in the beginning and when kids are so little. I was a children’s therapist for several years and of course I had many children disclose past abuse to me, some for the first time. I have made police reports and reports to protective services and it is heartbreaking work. Knowing correct terminology is so key! I have heard so many parents shy away from these conversations and teaching these words because they know how protective they are and they want their kids to “be innocent” as long as possible. However, if your kids go to school, play with friends, have any access to television, commercials, the internet, etc, they are picking up on these concepts and learning through people other than you. Our children are exposed to messages in so many ways. As mothers, we want to be the ones directing the information they receive. Let’s not wait until something happens or even until our child comes home with a lot of misconceptions to start these discussions! The pictures and anatomy in our book are all reviewed by physicians, therapists, and others. Our goal was to combine the science with happy, simple pictures that promoted feelings of comfort. Knowledge is power! Knowledge helps to keep us safe! Knowledge gives us confidence!!
Our kids hear so many messages today about their bodies and every aspect of their appearance. They hear from their peers, the media…and they take in so much! Affirmations are a powerful way to reinforce the messages we want our children to take in! In my family, we do affirmations in the car on the way to school every morning and on the way to dance most afternoons. Sometimes I lead and they repeat after me and sometimes my kids take turns deciding what they want to focus on that day. Most affirmations start with “I am” and at the end we have a few that we always repeat about how loved they are and about how today is going to be so great. We wanted our book to have affirmations on every page to reinforce the positive messages we are writing about. Loving ourselves is so important!!! Confidence, standing up for ourselves, knowing our value, and loving ourselves helps to keep us safe!!!
We have gotten so much better at teaching our children “my body belongs to me” and this is INCREDIBLE. I love when I hear my girls use this phrase in everyday life or when describing a situation with friends when someone was “being silly” and it became uncomfortable and they easily set this boundary. Our book also includes the focus that YOUR VOICE BELONGS TO YOU as well!!!! Our pages show many scenarios kids encounter where they can use their voice to say no, to say they are going to leave, to tell an adult, to say they are not going to view something they don’t want to see or discuss something they don’t want to discuss, to open up about questions, fears, concerns, etc that they may have with a parent, and so many others!!!! Speaking up keeps us safe! Confidence and using our voice keeps us safe! Your body belongs to you! Your voice belongs to you!
We are so excited to bring you this valuable resource! We know these discussions can be difficult and uncomfortable. It is so easy to put them off and wait until later. I Know Myself is a great solution and an easy way to start and continue to have these conversations. Use our book as a way to initiate these topics, as a foundation for teaching your children the basics, as a resource to make these conversations easier and more clear, and to act as a springboard for your children to feel comfortable asking questions or bringing up misinformation. Even if discussing these things comes easy to you and you are already using proper terms and normalizing these topics, we hope this book can be a great resource for visual examples to explain things like childbirth, fertilization, pregnancy, breastfeeding, and anatomy of both genders.
We want to instill the idea in our children as early as possible that they have a voice, that there is power and safety and peace in loving our bodies and in understanding how they work. This is our junior book and we hope there are more to come!!! Come be a part of this important work! Check out our Kickstarter and spread the word by sharing on Instagram and tagging @safelyachored or sharing this blog post with a friend!