Teaching The Hard Stuff: Introducing Fred The Fox *Update with Winner*

Teaching The Hard Stuff: Introducing Fred The Fox *Update with Winner*

Two weeks ago, a post came up in my reader that caught my attention. Scary Mommy had a guest post about a situation involving a six year old being asked by an older boy to touch his privates. This post scared me. It scared me enough that I posted it on Facebook. It opened up a great dialogue about this and about how young it seems like we have to talk about these things with our kids.

I’d like to state up front that I really feel like, thankfully, I grew up in a bubble. I didn’t know that things like this happened to people. The older I got, the more I realized that there were people in the world who did things like this. And now, working daily on Band Back Together, I realize how fortunate I am that sexual abuse has never touched my life — as a child or as an adult.

Just the night before this post was put up, Jason had to go through the Cub Scout Handbook with Henry. In the front is a section of topics to discuss with your son to help them learn what to do in situations such as the following:

  • What if you are playing on the playground and an adult comes up to you and asks you to help find his or her lost puppy? What do you do?
  • What if you are in a public restroom and someone tries to touch your private parts? What do you do?
  • What if you are playing at a friend’s house and his older brother and some of his friends invite you to join a club? To join the club you have to take off all your clothes and wrestle with them. Your friend wants to join. What do you do?
I’ll be honest. I was listening to the conversation Jason and Henry were having and I was panicky. There were about a dozen more questions and situations that go even deeper into detail than those. I was panicky because my child who loves to please others didn’t know the answers to these questions.

I was panicky because OMG my baby shouldn’t have to know about these things — there shouldn’t be people who do this in the world. It’s just not right.

But that’s not the case. There are bad people in the world and all we can do as parents is teach our kids right and wrong and empower them to know the difference and stand up for themselves.

The timing of the introduction by my friend Amy to the author of Fred The Fox Shouts “NO!” was perfect.

Tatiana K. Matthews is the author of the wonderful book Fred The Fox Shouts “NO!” and as it turns out, she lives right around the corner from me in Dunwoody, as does the very talented illustrator of the book, Allison Fears. Tatiana dropped off a book for me the other day to read to Henry. All I can say is that HE LOVED IT!

After the initial embarrassed-boy, sheepish look when talking about “privates,” he warmed up to it. Probably because the book is simple, to the point and the best part? You get to SCREAM!

Every time Fred The Fox’s parent asks a question, Fred answers and then YOU have to answer out loud. BY SCREAMING! It’s so much fun to read and gets the sillies out before bed.

The message is simple and to the point. The book is repetitive which is ideal for children of this age. Reading the book often is how the message and lessons will resonate the best with them.

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I asked Tatiana to answer some questions for me to give you a better insight into why she decided to write a book like this and a little more about how and when to talk to your children about these sensitive subjects.

What was your reason behind writing this book? And why a family of foxes? 

The book was inspired by my own experience as a mental professional. Time and time again I saw clients who had been victims of sexual abuse at the hands of family, friends and acquaintances. However, the focus of many resources are not heavily centered on safety with people you know and trust.

I chose the family of foxes because I knew that the story could not be threatening. We would have to use animals to soften the edges of this very serious subject. I knew that a child like, but soft and fuzzy character would do the trick. I also wanted the animal to have a den to represent the importance of family and the culture of the home.

How early should we be talking to our children about sexual abuse? What ages do you recommend Fred The Fox Shouts “NO” for? 

Sexual abuse prevention starts at birth. Identifying a child’s private areas by their anatomically correct names sets the stage. Teaching a child that allows you to remind them that those areas are private. Having that conversation while you are changing diapers and modeling behavior that reflects you respect your child’s right to privacy and personal boundaries.

Fred the Fox is appropriate for any child that can sit for a story up to at least age 10.

If I talk to my child about this, he will want to know about sex and I’m not ready for my 6 year old to know all that. How do I put off the sex talk until he’s older? 

Introducing the concepts of privacy, personal rights and the power of ones voice, does not mean you will end up talking about sex. If a child has a question about sex that is generated from this conversation, answer the question in a concise manner. Never answer more than what is asked. Too many words can cause you to lose the message.

If a child asks a question that would leave you to believe they have more knowledge of sex than developmentally appropriate, you will need to gently investigate how they gathered that knowledge. That advanced knowledge can be a red flag that a child had been sexually abused.

Is the problem of sexual abuse of children getting better? Or is it worse than ever? 

There are conflicting studies regarding the rise or decline of child sexual abuse. Some studies say acts of sexual abuse are on the decline, but sexual abuse involving technology are on the rise.

Do you have plans for other books about other tough-to-talk-about subjects? 

We do not currently have plans for another book at this time, but we have some very exciting ideas in hopes that we will reduce the occurrences of sexual abuse.

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Fred The Fox Shouts “NO!” was featured in the AJC last week. The story opened with the most frightening statistics:

  • One in four girls and one in six boys nationally will be sexually abused before their 18th birthday, according to the Georgia Center for Child Advocacy.
  • Of those, less than 10 percent will ever tell, even though they know their offender 90 percent of the time.
Do you think it’s time to talk to YOUR kids about good touch and bad touch? I think so…

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Congratulations to Law Momma for winning the copy of Fred The Fox Shouts “NO!” I’ll be shooting you an email!

Anyone who wants to buy a copy can get one here!

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Comments

  1. Sigh. It is hard to think about this subject and to address it, but it really has to be done. Jana, I was just panicky reading about you hearing Jason and Henry’s conversation. I’ve thought about talking about these things with Bryce (he just turned 5), but have only gotten to dealing with strangers approaching him and not getting more detailed into good and bad touches. I know have a 3-month old, June, who I will need to be prepared for on the subject, as well. I think this book is a fantastic way to talk about such a painful subject with children. Knowledge is power!

  2. It’s so sad we have to talk about this with our kids :( But, you are right they need to know. Love your blog Jana!

  3. Elizabeth is two and we haven’t had that conversation with her yet. But we ought to get started. I have the same feelings as you- BUT WE SHOULDN’T HAVE TO! It’s not right that the world contains people who suck.
    HereWeGoAJen recently posted..Inside and OutsideMy Profile

  4. Thank you for sharing this book! My poor little Duckling is terrified of strangers because she heard from her mother or grandmother about stranger danger in the wrong way. We haven’t even considered the “someone you know” part of all of this… I think we need this book.

  5. It hurts. my. heart. I’m going to have to have these conversations with my daughter. She’s 2 years old, and I have no clue when to start, but I know it’s my JOB to do the best I can to protect her, and give her the tools to protect herself. Thank you for this post.
    Amelia recently posted..“You read my diary?” “At first I did not know it was your diary, I thought it was a very sad handwritten book.”My Profile

  6. My daughter is 3 and this is a topic I’ve been avoiding too. This book sounds like a good way to introduce the topic. Thanks for sharing it with us, and I’ll look into purchasing a copy if I don’t win!

  7. Bit just turned 2. She knows her parts, and I talk about boundaries during diaper changes. I tell her that no one should touch her (outside of cleaning a diaper) and to always tell if she feels uncomfortable. She doesn’t get it now, but you can’t start the teaching too early. I also counsel sexually abused girls, ages 5-7, in a weekly therapy group. It is heart breaking to work with the kids that still don’t understand that what happened to them was bad.

  8. My kid is 5. I’ve only vaguely discussed good and bad touches with my son. I’ve asked if anyone has touched him in ways he didn’t like. I’ve let him know that he can absolutely tell an adult if someone touches him in a way he doesn’t like, and that he never has to keep it a secret no matter what. I am not completely confident we’ve talked about it fully but we’ve done it the best way I could think to.
    Ewokmama recently posted..Good ThingsMy Profile

  9. STEPHANIE Whitson says:

    Good job JANA…there is an increase in child on child abuse….We don’t usually think about this as being a risk but it is!! You know I am passionate about this area…I don’t teach my kids about good touch/bad touch…i teach them that if ANYONE touches their private parts they need to talk about. So if I touch their private parts….they can talk about….if their dad does…they can talk about it. I am trained in forensic interviewing and good clinicians can tell the difference between sexual abuse and normal parent assistance with hygiene…..Parents should decide if it’s a good or bad touch not kids! Also I agree that you start with sex ed early….our bodies are a gift…..but that’s another story

  10. I’ve had this discussion with my daughter (now 10) for a long time. It’s usually not a “sit down, let’s talk about this” conversation, but a “You know not to let anyone touch your privates, right?” kind of talk. She knows she can alwasy tell me or my parents anything. I don’t know if we’ve really talked about it with my son, 5. He’s now getting to the “No one look at me when I’m naked stage”, so I figure his dad will have to talk to him about that at some point. Hmm. HATE these conversations. And don’t get me started on the whole period/sex talk. UGH!!!

  11. I haven’t talked to my son yet but I need to. He is three. My parents never did with us. My older brother was violently abused at his school, he was around my son’s age. You’d think that my parents would have talked to my other brother and I about it. I guess they were ashamed or pretending it didn’t happen. It would’ve prevented many things. I can’t do that to my son. But it hurts, especially when it’s not a topic that was comfortable in the home I grew up in. I always told myself I would be open with my children. It needs to start now.

  12. Thank you so much, Jana! Monkey is only 19 months old and we’re teaching the correct terms for body parts. I am very thankful there is a book to help parents go through this process!

    I worked in the prevention of child abuse and learned that the hardest part is the fact that touch, even when bad, can feel good (yes, even for young ones – it’s so hard to think about that!). Getting that across to children is hard the part!

    Even though I worked in the field, thinking of talking with Monkey about it is overhwhelming at times.

    What a wonderful posting full of great information! I really appreciate this!

  13. Thank you. Seriously, thank you. Your timing is perfect. My son just joined Cub Scouts and we got that same handbook. And, ugh. I hate the thought of shattering his innocence yet again, and yet, I know the discussions are important. So we’ll talk. So that he’ll know he can ask me anything and tell me anything. Thanks for the nudge. I’ll also be checking into the book!

  14. Oh my gosh. You have no idea just how hard I’ve been looking for a book like this. I’m a survivor myself (from a close, trusted family member) and I’ve noticed that many of the books focus on strangers or doctors or community members, but not family or close friends. I struggle constantly with how I’m going to broach this subject with my 23 month old. I’ve started already by teaching him the proper names for his parts. I just don’t know where to go from there!

    So please, PLEASE pick me! This would be SOOOO helpful!!
    Nicci @ Changing the Universe recently posted..Doin the Working Mom ThangMy Profile

  15. Liked on FB!

  16. JT&A's mom says:

    I grew up in a bubble too, but my mom and Grandma always talked to me about safe touching. Later I learned it was because they were sexually abused :(. I talk to my kids about safe touching. They are so friendly it makes me panicky. :-/

  17. Thank you Jana for addressing this. My opinion that it doesn’t matter if this problem is increasing or decreasing if it happens to you or your child it becomes devastating. I was molested at age 5, my daughter age 3. The long term consequences to a child can be incredibly difficult to overcome. One of the hardest things to overcome is the abuser will accuse the child for causing molestation or rape to happen. Teaching them young about respecting their bodies does not require teaching them about sex. I am now watching my children raise their children.
    Thanks,
    Ruth
    Ruth recently posted..Choosing to ChangeMy Profile

  18. I have twin girls who will be 6 in December. I’m terrible because we haven’t talked a lot about this stuff because I don’t know how and I’m worried it will lead to other/bigger questions I don’t have answers for. NO EXCUSE. I need to get on this now. Thanks for sharing all of this—I’m entering, but will order this book if I don’t win!
    Erin Margolin recently posted..In the Dark of NightMy Profile

  19. p.s. I just liked Fred the Fox on FB and posted a link on my wall! Thanks, Jana!
    Erin Margolin recently posted..Comment on In the Dark of Night by Mama TrackMy Profile

  20. J is two and I’ve been struggling with this very thing lately. Especially because J is in daycare and therefore with other people for 40 plus hours a week, I want him to feel secure and safe and want him to be able to say “No” and to tell me if someone doesn’t respect his “No.”

    Being a parent is a terrifying thing and this book sounds like it’s a good way to start the conversation.

  21. And also I liked “Fred” on facebook.
    Law Momma recently posted..Friday RambleMy Profile

  22. It’s sad that we have to teach children this at such early ages. But it is a good lesson to learn. Something David has yet to learn.
    Jackie recently posted..Memories of 10 years agoMy Profile

  23. Jana, this is SUCH an important topic! Eddie is two and we don’t really talk about it other than it’s not for people to touch.

    I know we would LOVE to win this book!
    Katie recently posted..the anchor and the helms wheelMy Profile

  24. and I “liked” on fb!
    Katie recently posted..the anchor and the helms wheelMy Profile

  25. I am embarrassed to say that with a 4 yr, 7 yr and 8yr old boys ihaventgottne much further than something like “onlythe dr and mommy and daddy are allowed to look down there” it’s not an excuse but never having had anyone talk to me about it I really just don’t know where to start. Even if I don’t win I am going to go check it out. I liked it FB too.

  26. Elizabeth Cunningham says:

    I have 5 (almost) and 2 year old boys. I haven’t really had the conversations yet but am so glad to know about this book!!! Will have to order if I don’t win!!! Thanks for sharing!!!

  27. Elizabeth Cunningham says:

    I just like Fred’s fb page too!!!

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