WATCH: Oprah show on Child Sexual Abuse

WATCH: Oprah show on Child Sexual Abuse

While this is not the blog’s norm I’m sharing this video because hearing a personal story can help you hear the message as a parent more clearly than reading a distant statistic.

This Oprah Show episode is quite graphic as victims of sexual abuse give their personal accounts of being abused sexually as children.

Keep in mind that USA Statistics show:

1 out of 5 Boys will be Sexually Abused
by their 18th Birthday

1 out of 3 Girls will be Sexually Abused
by their 18th Birthday

To read more about protecting your child go to:

The American Pediatrics Association

Speaking out Against Child Sexual Abuse Inc.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=9PJlBhJCQ00]

Photo Source : Feminineangle.blogspot.nl

Talking to Young Children about their Bodies

Talking to Young Children about their Bodies

As a parent, sex education is a conversation that you’d most likely try to avoid. If you’re a parent of a toddler or preschooler you may think that you can avoid this talk for at least a few years. This is not exactly true. Sex education can start at any age and at the pace your child sets with his curiosity and questions.
Sex education is important for children of all ages. Young children need to learn about their own bodies to help them feel comfortable with themselves, understand their feelings and protect themselves against unwanted touch. How he or she feels about sex and the body can have a lifelong effect into their sexual relationships as grownups. Adults who are confident and knowledgeable about their bodies and their sexual needs tend to lead a healthier sex life and that this infrastructure is placed throughout childhood.

Introduce your child to his body through everyday activities like bath time or diaper changing by teaching your child the proper names for his or her sex organs. Teach your child that no one (or only certain people like mommy or daddy) are allowed to touch the private parts of his or her body and to tell you if someone tries to touch them. Start at a young age and add it to your regular instructions with your child. Don’t emphasize these instructions with an exaggerated sense of urgency or anxiety since that may cause your child to feel guilty or fearful of telling you if he or she does encounter that situation.

Children under 4 are naturally curious about their and other people’s bodies. At around 3 years, children start noticing that boys and girls have different genitals and can often be seen playing “doctor” to examine each other’s bodies. This form of exploration is very different from adults’ sexuality and is harmless when only young children are involved but you can choose to set the limits you see fit. When reminding your child that certain parts of his body are for him alone and not for others to touch, try to remain calm but firm when sending your child the message. If your child feels like he or she has done something really bad it may cause feelings of shame. He or she may start feeling guilty about these natural feelings of curiosity and try to explore without getting caught.

Some examples of common sexual behavior from children under 4:

■ Exploring, touching, rubbing or showing private parts, in public and in private

■ Trying to touch mother’s or other women’s breasts

■ Taking off clothes and being naked or trying to see others while they are naked

■ Asking questions and talking about their own—and others’—bodies and bodily functions to adults and other children their own age

When your child asks questions about his or her body or even your own don’t feel embarrassed, laugh or avoid the question. Take these questions seriously, your child looks to you for honest answers that teach him about the world. Give your child simple and age appropriate answers. There’s no need to go into a lot of detail, if your child wants to know more, he or she will ask.

Here are some examples of questions young children ask and how you could answer them

  • Why doesn’t everyone have a penis?  you can simply reply by saying that boys and girls have different bodies. Boys have a penis but girls don’t.
  • Why is there hair down there? you can say that bodies change as we grow older and this is one of the changes.
  • How do girls go “pee-pee”? Girls have a different part in their body than the penis that they can use to go to the toilet.
  • Where do babies come from? this can be a tough question but try to give a simple and honest answer. You can start by saying that babies grow in a special place in the mommy’s tummy. If your child is still curious, you can elaborate that when a mommy and daddy love each other they come together and make a baby. Answer your child’s questions as long as she/he is asking them.
  • Why do mommies have breasts but daddies don’t? “When boys and girls grow up to be big like daddy and mommy, their bodies change and become different”.You can point out other differences like daddy has a beard or moustache but mommy doesn’t. Let her know that you will answer any other questions or thoughts she has about this so she can come to you.

These conversations may feel awkward at time but remember that your child relies on you for information on how the world works.To make things easier you can try to include books in your regular reading which are designed specifically for teaching young children about their body and private parts. This can make approaching the topic much more natural and relaxed. It’s a good source of information for your child as well as showing you what is age appropriate information. Remember you are setting the stage for open conversation that will last till the critical years in adolescence and early adulthood when sexuality becomes a main topic for most young men and women.

 

Reading with your Child 

My Body Belongs to Me by Jill Starishevsky

The story is a simple scenario involving a gender neutral child who is inappropriately touched by an uncle’s friend.  The powerful message really comes through when the youngster tells on the offender and the parents praise the child’s bravery.  The last page shows a proud, smiling child doing a “strong arm” pose.  The text assures them that it wasn’t their fault and by speaking out the child will continue to grow big and strong.  It is a compelling and uplifting message.

 

References and Helpful Resourcs

When Young Children Start Using Bad Language

When Young Children Start Using Bad Language

This article was featured in Arabic on Supermama

Every parent knows that kids have a tendency to say the strangest things at the most inappropriate times. But what happens when your child picks up on some bad language? Young children can be exposed to inappropriate language from several sources; an older sibling, TV or even their own parents who may occasionally slip up.  Usually young children don’t understand that a given word is “bad” or “good”, they just repeat words they hear because that’s how they get to learn about social interaction and develop their language skills. If a word gets attention (encouragement or punishment) that sends a message that your child is doing something right he’s most likely to repeat it to get your attention.

If your child has picked up a few inappropriate words don’t guilt yourself. Children are exposed to so many sources of language and information it’s quite rare that a child won’t hear any bad language while growing up. There are many things you can do to prevent your child from acquiring bad language and redirecting him to more appropriate words.

What you can do:

  • Be a role model. Watch out for your own language in certain situations. Words can slip out when we’re angry or frustrated like when we’re stuck in traffic or someone cuts us off while driving.
  • Monitor what your child is watching on TV. Avoid shows that could contain inappropriate content so that your child isn’t exposed to inappropriate language.
  •  Don’t give extra attention when your child uses a bad word. As we mentioned children often repeat inappropriate words because of the attention they get. Calmly but firmly let your child know that this word is not OK and show him how to better express himself if he’s feeling frustrated or upset.
  • Let your child know that words can be hurtful when he/she calls someone a bad name. Try to help your child understand that some words can make people feel bad.
  •  Avoid labeling your child as bad when he uses inappropriate language. It’s important to make it clear that it’s the language that is bad not your child. Always give your child an alternative. It may be obvious to us as adults but remember that your child is still learning all the Dos and Don’ts of social interaction.
  • Give an age appropriate response. Young children most often repeat words without knowing their meaning. To them repeating bad language holds the same value as repeating any other word that got attention. Don’t over react by punishing your child or shouting, this will only make your child focus on these words and let him know this is an effective (although negative) way of getting your attention.
  • Praise more appropriate words and actions done by your child. You don’t have to go overboard but giving your child a smile or saying “that’s nice of you” lets her know she’s on the right track and that what she’s doing is encouraged.

 

These are just some suggestions to help make your life easier. You have to decide what works best with your child and family. Remember to follow through and be consistent. Patience is important especially when you change your behavior, it will take time for your child to respond and get used to the new pattern.

Photo by Mindaugas Danys

Using “Time-out” Positively

Using “Time-out” Positively

Using time-out has become a regular disciplinary method that most parents use, but is it really effective? How many times have you put your child in time-out for misbehaving only to have him do the same thing you told him not to after he’s done with time-out? Who hasn’t struggled with making a toddler stay in time-out? You keep on putting him back but he keeps leaving the time-out space and pretty soon it’s turned into a game for him and frustration for you.

Why time-out doesn’t work

There’s actually a very good reason why time-out doesn’t work. Young children under 5 find it extremely difficult to control and regulate their feeling. So when they are asked to go to time-out and clam down they simply can’t do it. Whatever feeling your child is going through at that moment just seems too much to handle for him. He needs you to help him, he simply can’t do it alone. Another reason is that children need immediate consequences to help them learn. Prolonging punishment isn’t really going to help you emphasize your point. When a child is asked to go in his room and “think about what he’s done”  that doesn’t give him any idea as to what he did wrong or what he could have done instead. Young children are still learning and exploring, everything is new to them. What might come naturally to you may be a skill your child needs to be introduced to. This doesn’t mean you should be permissive with your child and just let him do whatever he wants. Time-out can also be an effective tool when used positively.

What you can do

  • Remove your child from the situation to a calm spot if he is misbehaving or is having a meltdown
  • Remind your child of house rules like “no-hitting” depending on the situation
  • Use time-out as a calming space and not punishment. Don’t leave your child alone in time-out and don’t associate it with something negative. Instead provide your child with support and comfort to help him recognize his feelings, listen to why he misbehaved, discuss with him why his behavior was inappropriate and explain the kind of behavior you expect from him.
  • With repetition time-out can become a place for your child to regulate his feelings. Instead of threatening to send him to time-out you can enable him to use time-out to calm himself. If you start seeing signs that your child is feeling frustrated and agitated you can ask him if he needs some time-out. As your child grows older and learns to regulate his emotions on his own he can use time-out by himself.
  • Don’t overuse it. Like anything else don’t resort to time-out every time your child misbehaves. Find out why your child is misbehaving or feeling frustrated and choose an appropriate solution for that specific situation.
  • Distinguish between your child’s behavior and your child. Avoid using words like “stop being naughty”. Labeling your child tells him what to think of himself not his behavior. Instead explain what behavior was wrong “stop jumping on the sofa”. You want to send a message about your child’s behavior not himself to help him find an alternative and maintain his self confidence.

Read more on..

Photo from Sheknows.com

Your Baby and Crying

Your Baby and Crying

I’m currently reading Dr. Penelope Leach‘s book on child raising called Your Baby and Child which covers ages birth to 5 years. So far it’s an amazing read and I recommend it to parents, especially first time parents. The book gives detailed and practical advice on handling your newborn, toddler and preschooler. What I like most is that Penelope Leach has based this book on scientific research which I find adds credibility. As well as having the experience of raising her own two children which makes her more attuned to the practicalities of motherhood and parenting.

A common debate among parents is letting your baby cry, also known as “controlled crying” or “ferberization“. A lot of parents face this problem specifically at bedtime and resort (in despair mostly) to letting the baby cry herself to sleep.

Here’s what Dr. Leach has to say about this topic and how your baby interprets your behavior.

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fbYk5RiIwZI]

You can read more about the first year in Leach’s book The Essential First Year”  

Photo by phaendin


Choosing Books: From newborns to preschoolers

Choosing Books: From newborns to preschoolers

The joy of reading is one of the greatest gifts you can give your child. Letting your imagination go as you read through the words is an amazing feeling. Get your child into reading early on. You can start introducing books at a very early age, as young as 3 month. Here are some tips on how to choose appropriate books for your infant, toddler and preschooler. With a list of some of my favorites for every age. Enjoy!

Reading with Baby

Birth to 6 months

At this age try to choose books that are either cloth or board books. Avoid paper pages, they’re difficult for babies to turn and will tear immediately. Look for books with high contrast colors with simple, clear and big pictures with a character or two in each page. While reading through the book remember to point your finger at the object you’re describing. This way your baby understands what you’re talking about. Books at this age don’t need to have any text, you can improvise each time you read the story making it a new experience every time! Make sure to give your baby the opportunity to look through the book on his own as well and practice turning the pages.

  Fuzzy Bee and Friends (Cloth Book) by Roger Priddy

 Is a soft and colorful cloth book. Your baby can enjoy touching and squeezing the different insects in the book.

Baby Animals Black and While (Board Book) by Phyllis Limbacher

These high contrast black and white images will grab your baby’s attention while you talk to her  about the animals.

 

6 – 18 Months

Babies at this age start enjoying more color in books as well as feeling different textures. Again stick to cloth or board books and include books with colorful and simple images. Add  more books with textures, tactile experiences add pleasure to your baby’s reading experience and foster sensory exploration. Introduce books that encourage object labeling and everyday life.

Brown Bear, Brown Bear, What do you See? (Board Book) by Bill Jr Martin and Eric Carle Your baby will enjoy reading this book into her preschool years.

Touch and Feel Baby Animals by Dorling Kindersley
This book has beautiful and clear photographs of different animals. As well as different textures for each of them that your baby can enjoy touching.


Reading with your Toddler

18 Months to 2.5 Years

At around 2 years children start experiencing a language boom when words just start flowing and your toddler starts expressing himself easier. Toddlers can understand everything way before they can express themselves. Books that have more detail, a story line and encourage participation are perfect for  toddlers. Lift-the-Flap books are great fun for kids and help develop fine motor skills. Encourage your child to lift the flaps and guess what’s under. You’ll soon find your child joining in with load exclamations of “YES” “NOoo” “It’s a LION” as you read along. Look for books that label familiar people and emotions, as well as books full of rhyme and rhythm. Point out objects that you see in your life. Try rhyming funny and made up words. Remember to often point to the text and images as you read.

For a great list of books for toddlers Click Here!

 Green Eggs and Ham by Dr Seuss
This classic is full of fun characters and Dr Seuss signature rhymes. New  editions are available as Lift-the-Flap books as well.

The Very Hungry Caterpillar by Eric Carle
Watch how this caterpillar make it’s way through all sorts of yummy items and transforms into a butterfly.

Reading with Your Preschooler

2 .5 to 5 Years

Your child is developing very fast now. Language both expressive and receptive is increasing, your child is picking up more and more words and mimicking your sentences. At this age children also start enjoying dramatic and imaginative play. They are also developing skills like sharing and empathy. Books with imaginative and make belief characters are great for this age. Try to include books that foster creativity and imagination as well as those that represent real life situations your child can relate to. Books with a story-line and carry a message like sharing, kindness, etc can be engaging for children. Include your child in the storytelling experience by asking him what will happen next or to make up his own story.

For a great list of books for your preschooler Click Here!

Where the Wild Things Are by Maurice Sendak  
A beautiful and imaginative classic.

Things That Go! by Richard Scarry
Your child will spend hours enjoying Richard Scarry’s illustrations and discovering new details every time!

I hope this gives you some tips on choosing books for your child at different stages. These are just guidelines for choosing books that children will generally be interested in. Remember to consider your child’s interests and developmental abilities when choosing books.

What do you think ? What are your child’s favorite books?

Happy Reading! :)

Picture from Toddler Lesson Plans