Reading Not for Kids! with children can be such a positive experience! As one mum of a 6-year old said:
I loved this book! It was lighthearted and non-confronting. I didn’t have to have a conversation about porn at all. My daughter understood and it can translate to other situations too. It gives them the power to ASK and TELL without fear of retribution – just healthy curiosity.
When reading this book with your child, my advice is to expect success… yet anticipate the unexpected. As daunting as the thought may be, your child may have already seen explicit content and not said anything. Reading Not for Kids! will give them permission to test the waters and see if you will get mad at them, or if you respond in a loving, supportive and understanding manner. It may be the case that your child has heard other kids at school or older cousins talking about things and they haven’t quite understood. Or it may be that this is the first time they have thought about adults doing grown-up things together. Let me encourage you. A calm and balanced conversation using age appropriate language will empower your child. It won’t rob them of their innocence – rather, they will feel safe knowing that they can approach you to discuss things that they encounter in their day-to-day world that may otherwise be daunting and confusing. If you are feeling anxious or questioning the need to have this type of conversation, take a moment to look over the Support Notes before you get started, and scroll to the bottom of this page for further insight.
Regardless of whether your child knows or doesn’t know anything about adult behaviour, use this book as an opportunity to let your child know they can come to you about ANYTHING they feel unsafe or unsure about. Not for Kids! is written for 5 – 10 year olds so the guided questions will need to be tailored in a way that you know your child will understand and work for their level of understanding. Because this book is so gentle in approach, your child will process it at their level in a way that is developmentally okay for them. This is a wonderful place of empowerment for you both!
As you read this illustrated rhyming book, there are several ways you may like to approach it.
- Discuss things as you go through each page
- Read it right through and come back to discuss things
- Or it may be a combination of both.
How you read Not for Kids! will be a matter of whatever works for you and your child. If you are a teacher, you may also choose to read it to the classroom you are working with, or engage me for a book reading.
I do however, highly recommend that you read it together. There is nothing harmful about giving this book to your child unattended, however it’s certainly a missed opportunity for conversation if they read it alone.
These guidelines are not intended to be prescriptive, however they are a starting point to give you confidence in approaching this topic.
Page 5: Milly talks about the pictures, movies and photographs that she loves.
- Ask your child what sort of images they love and enjoy.
Page 6: discusses sharing things on Facebook and keeping some things personal to help keep the Internet helpful and safe.
- This guidance is more relevant for children closer to the age of 10, however depending on your child, may still be helpful for younger kids.
- Explain to your child that there’s a difference between ‘personal’ and ‘private’ when we are talking about online content. ‘Private’ is an online setting that we can set for social media. It means that it’s only shared with the people we want it to be shared with.
- BUT because we share things on the World Wide Web, there’s no guarantee that what we share will only be viewed by the people we share it with. When we upload something online, we lose control of it.
- The only way we can keep something personal, is by not sharing it online.
- When we experience big emotions (anger, sadness, etc.), it may be smarter to not share it online.
- By being smart about what we share, we are being a responsible digital citizen.
- It’s always a good idea to keep personal details personal and offline (like our birthday, address, phone number and school).
- Facebook is only for kids over the age of 13. Talk to your child about the types of platforms that they may already use that are suitable for their age bracket. Reaffirm the importance of keeping personal information offline and only speaking to the people that they actually know.
Page 9: talks about the different feelings Milly experiences when she watches movies.
- Ask your child about ‘good feelings’ movie they’ve seen that they really loved.
- Ask them if they’ve ever seen a ‘bad feelings’ movie that they didn’t enjoy. What were those bad feelings? How did they move on from those feelings?
Page 10: explains Milly’s experience of seeing grown-ups doing things that made her feel uncomfortable.
- Discuss with your child the steps Milly took:
- Milly listened to her tummy that told her what she was seeing wasn’t for her eyes.
- Milly passed back the phone.
- Milly experienced some big emotions and knew she had to tell someone.
- Ask your child if they’ve ever seen anything that has made them feel confused and upset like Milly did.
- Listen and calmly respond (see the bottom of the page for more tips). Allow your child to open up.
Page 13: shares how the images stayed in Milly’s mind and played around in her head. Milly knows that she must talk to her mum.
- Who else could have Milly spoken to at school?
- Could Milly have spoken to the teacher? Or the principal? Help your child identify who they could speak with if they knew that sharing images or adult movies was happening at their school.
- Was it okay that the other child showed Milly those images? [No. It is illegal to show a minor images of pornography. The other child will likely need professional intervention and education, particularly around the importance of not showing other children these images].
- NOTE: It is vitally important that a child who shows images to other children is reported through the appropriate confidential processes at the school, and that the school acts. This can also be reported to the relevant Government Child Safety Department in your local area. Without intervention, a child engaging in this behaviour will likely continue to put other children at risk.
- Discuss with your child how it feels so much better to talk about things that are troubling. By speaking about troubling things, it gets it out of our mind and brings it out into the open. Big secrets like that can make us feel sick in the tummy – the thoughts keep churning and we can feel lonely.
- What about if it was an adult that showed Milly those images? Is that okay or not okay? [Not okay at all. Adults who show children pornographic images are often doing so as part of a grooming process, using them to convince children that engaging in sexually abusive behaviours are okay, telling them that it’s ‘a special secret’. Children need to have a clear message that it’s not okay for other children, teens or adults to show them content that is not for kids eyes. If it has happened to them, it is never their fault.]
Page 14: highlights how Milly’s mum was her most trusted and safe adult.
- Help your child to identify several safe adults they can talk to. Sometimes it’s helpful to have them draw an outline of their hand and write each person in one of the fingers so they know who to go to for a helping hand.
- Ask you child what other things they may need to talk to a safe adult about. This could include feeling unsafe in any situation or if someone touches them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable.
Page 17: provides some simple strategies for kids that you can expand upon.
- Some things are not for kids and can be troubling.
- Look away quickly or cover your eyes.
- If something makes you feel bad, talk to a safe adult.
- When images are troubling, we can choose to leave them behind.
Page 18: helps kids learn to refocus and provides clear steps:
- Focus on breathing to calm down
- Listen for the quiet voice that helps guide them to make good choices
- We can all take charge of our thoughts and our actions
Page 19: offers some final advice for kids from Milly.
There’s only one thing worse than children being exposed to graphic explicit imagery, and that is a child who feels isolated and alone, unprepared for seeing such things and not knowing where to turn. Not for Kids! is an exceptional children’s book that offers gentle and insightful guidance. It’s a ‘must have’ resource for parents and professionals to prepare kids under the age of 10 for the inevitable.
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