From talking about money management to teaching your kids to drive, there are many intimidating aspects of raising kids. But arguably one of the biggest is the task of teaching kids about sex, pornography, consent, and body safety.
For many of us, our parents only briefly brought up the subject when we were kids—or maybe they avoided it completely. And even if you want to be more open than your parents were, it can be hard to know where to start: When should you bring it up? What’s age-appropriate for your child? How much should you say?
Of course, technology adds another layer of complexity to the subject. Young ones could easily encounter sexual content online, and it’s our job as parents to make sure they know what to do when that happens.
Fortunately, there are a wealth of resources out there to help you navigate this often uncomfortable topic.
Today I want to share five picture books that have helped us start some great discussions with our kids. I’ve certainly felt overwhelmed at the thought of bringing up these topics, but these picture books have made me feel much more confident in my approach.
You probably already spend a lot of time reading with your kids, making picture books a perfect avenue for launching the conversation. The “script” is right there in front of you, along with helpful images that kids can learn from and interact with.
Here are five books that have really helped us navigate talking to kids about their bodies. So load up the snack tray, pull up a chair, and get ready to talk about some important subjects!
God Made All of Me is a perfect book for talking to younger children about consent. Filled with colorful illustrations, it teaches that every part of their body has been beautifully made by God. Children get to decide how and when they are touched, whether they’re giving a high-five, a hug, or a kiss. If any form of physical touch makes them uncomfortable, they have the choice to say, “No, thank you.” The book also talks about secrets vs. surprises and provides important talking points for keeping kids safe.
We’ve used It’s Not the Stork to kick of the discussion with our kids about reproduction, anatomy, puberty, and sex. I love that it’s all-encompassing—not exclusively about the mechanics of sex. It covers topics like the differences between boys’ and girls’ bodies, how bodies change as they get older, and how baby’s grow in the mother’s womb. Kids as young as four can learn all the basics from this book, and it’s a great launching point for future conversations.
Need a plan for how to talk to your kids about pornography? Good Pictures Bad Pictures offers ideas on how to get started. It explains what pornography is, what kids should do when they encounter it, the affects of pornography on the brain, and how to avoid it. This book is geared toward elementary-aged kids, but there’s also another version that’s designed for toddlers and preschoolers.
We all know young kids are very curious, especially when it comes to their bodies. Who Has What? helps answer some of those questions with a captivating story about a family going to the beach. I love that the narrative of this book keeps little ones entertained, while still providing straight-forward facts that enable kids to feel confident and comfortable in their bodies.
Do you have pre-teen boys at home? If so, Guy Stuff is definitely an essential book to have on the shelf. From voice changes to shaving, it teaches growing boys everything they need to know about how their bodies will develop during puberty. Some boys can be averse to this kind of body talk, but simply slipping this book on their nightstand can be a good ice-breaker.
Talking to kids about sex, consent, and body safety can certainly be nerve-wracking, but I’ve found that picture books are an ideal way to get the conversation going. I also highly recommend following Kristin Hodson’s Instagram account, where she shares amazing, research-based insights on sexual health and how to teach it to your kids and teens.
If you want to be open about body talk with your kids, but aren’t sure where to start, check out a few of these helpful resources. You might be surprised at where the discussion takes you!
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