Having big chats with little people

Author Jayneen Sanders.

By Melissa Grant

Some chats are difficult but necessary to have with little ones.

It’s important to talk about issues such as consent and body safety, but where and when do you start?

These discussions can take place relatively early on, provided they are age-appropriate.

That’s the view of body safety advocate and award-winning author Jayneen Sanders, who has launched a new book series to assist parents with crucial yet sometimes ‘tough’ topics for early learners.

The series, called Little BIG Chats, features 12 books suitable for children aged 2-6 years.

The titles include Consent, Secrets and Surprises, Private Parts are Private, My Safety Network, Feelings, Everyone is Equal and Empathy.

They feature interactive questions designed to bring a child’s own experiences and understandings into the conversation, and inside the back cover there are discussion questions for parents, caregivers and educators.

Jayneen passionately feels that we can do more to keep our children safe by teaching them age-appropriate and empowering prevention education.

A decade ago she wrote ‘Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept’ to help protect children from unsafe touch by teaching them to speak up.

“I’m not a survivor of sexual abuse but I am a mother of three daughters and I’m a teacher,” Jayneen explained.

“I’ve had a number of friends who were sexually abused as children. They said to me we need to do something before they (children) are in the perpetrator’s web because once they are in the web it’s very complex.

“I went to the children’s school council and I said, ‘you know we should be doing some protective behaviours on body safety’ and everyone was really uncomfortable.

“That was really like a red flag to a bull for me. I thought OK, we need to do this. That’s when I wrote Some Secrets Should Never Be Kept.”

Jayneen went back to teaching but soon felt the need to write more books.

“Instances came up… particularly where young girls couldn’t say no to the boys around them all the time wanting to hold onto their hands,” she recalled.

“I thought, wow we have to do more about empowering kids about consent. From there, gender equality comes into it as well and then social intelligence and empathy. The whole gambit began.”

Jayneen says her book My Body! What I Say Goes! is a must-read for children aged 4-10 years, with the title covering personal body safety, feelings, safe and unsafe touch, private parts, secrets and surprises, consent and respect.

Last year, Jayneen decided to break down body safety and consent for kids aged 2-6 year-olds and Little BIG Chats was born.

She says parents can start teaching consent and body safety from a young age by asking to dress their child and calling genitals by the correct names.

“If kids are educated (to say) ‘that’s my vagina, don’t touch it’, the perpetrator will run a mile,” she explained.

Jayneen likens teaching body safety and consent to putting your child’s seatbelt on.

“You put it in place, you hope you never have to use it but it’s there just in case,” she said.

“We are not with them 24/7 and and believe me, predators groom families and they groom kids.

“Look at the news cycle. It’s always there and it’s the person you least expect.

“We are seeing a lot more child on child abuse too. The average age for a boy is 11 to see pornography. Once they see it they can’t unsee it, and it’s very traumatic and sometimes they will outplay that trauma on younger siblings and children.”

However, she says the positive is that prevention through education is really empowering.

“An empowered child is an empowered teenager – it’s very powerful,” she said.

The Little BIG Chats books are available individually in hard back or can be purchased as a complete soft cover set. For more information, visit https://e2epublishing.info