How are we supposed to keep our children safe in this world we live in today?
As parents, we do our best to educate our children in the realm of safety. But sadly, while we try to educate, prepare, and plan, the path of doing so is littered with help that isn’t helpful. Even our basic understanding of ‘Stranger Danger’, for example, needs to be challenged as it’s not appropriate for real life threats and concerns.
Navigating how to teach your child safety around things like crossing the road, navigating technology and the internet, what to do during an emergency, and even teaching them more sensitive topics like body autonomy and consent can be painless with the right tools. Having something like a storybook to give children background on issues they may face, like bullying, to understand basic safety measures makes navigating conversations and introducing the topics of safety much easier & digestible for your child.
Books also provide a great opportunity to create personal Safety Plans. Becoming a prepared parent means planning in advance for possible scenarios. Books can be used to develop these plans as well as lay out the resources to promote the ongoing safety & well-being for your child. Books can introduce relatable characters and allow children to learn from the characters’ experiences, even their mistakes, preparing children for scenarios life may send their way.
If you have searched children’s books for safety related topics, then you know there is a plethora of books written with the hope of keeping children safe. While we are confident the intent and motives of the writers, illustrators, producers and such are all well-meaning, very few books meet our most basic requirements. In teaching self defense to victims of various harms and traumas we have an understanding of what allowed them to find themselves in such a position and/or be unable or unwilling to do something about it.
Any book containing content that could contribute to preventing a person from identifying danger or defending themselves from it is not an option, in our opinion.
How could a children's books contribute to making a child more unsafe? A few of the more major ways include...
(1) Creating mental blocks by depending on black and white thinking. "Always" and "Never" just don't apply in the realm of safety. Labels create problems when, for example, a family member or police officer isn't safe. Other labels include:
"good" and "bad"
"safe" and "unsafe"
"right" and "wrong"
(2) Providing tools for abusers. The above labels can also easily and unintentionally create shame. Guilt and shame are tools used by predators to manipulate children into compliance.
(3) Planting ideas. Some books include unnecessary specifics that, for a child with no previous knowledge or understanding, could now be curious. Also, for child that is known to act out, these books just provide more ideas on how to get negative attention.
(4) Being problem oriented. Books that focus on what NOT to do or are too heavy on the problem/risks, rather than solutions, actually can encourage children to focus on, look for and possibly find the problem.
While the above are not always applicable for every child, if a book contains a potential problem for ANY child - we don't use it. After omitting the books that fall under the above criteria in the books found on safety, here is a list of all of the ones we recommend:
I Can Be Safe: A First Look at Safety by Pat Thomas is recommended for ages 4-7. This covers what it means to be safe and general safety tips. There are a few key concepts - like fear - that are covered clearly and beautifully.
I Can Play It Safe by Alison Feigh is recommended for ages 4-8. Every page of this short book is jam packed with key points on important topics to consider while creating a Safety Plan that works.
Once Upon A Dragon: Stranger Safety for Kids (and Dragons) by Jean E. Pendziwol is recommended for ages 3-6. This includes tips for caregivers as well as conversations to have along with suggestions on creating a Safety Plan.
The books listed above are GREAT! Unfortunately, that's it. This is an incredibly short list despite reading thousands of books over the years.
However, we compiled and used a list of fun, thought provoking children's books you would never notice could be used for this purpose. These resources help your child gain a working knowledge, and a thorough understanding of key safety topics to take with them wherever they go. This list of books is included in the PREPARED Children, a Mama Bear PREPARED online course.
If you're on the waitlist for the course but ready to start today, you can still download our eGuide on How to Jumpstart Your Child's Safety Plan to start utilizing some of recommended books along with the cliff notes on the hows and whys of a working Safety Plan. The eGuide even has a couple games and everyday conversations that can make all the difference in feeling confident in your child's safety. The eGuide is a quick snippet of some of what's in the course. If you want more quicks tools for today, other suggested books and reading from the course include raising children with Body Autonomy and an understanding of Consent as well as for creating a plan for Bullying which you can also download separately and find here.
The Mama Bear PREPARED online courses were created by a mom with professional background in violence prevention, personal protection, martial arts, as well as studies focused in childhood development, psychology and criminal behavior. In raising her own children to be PREPARED she realized she collected all the things every mother deserves to know about prevention.
To get equipped with what's needed to start empowering your child with a Safety Plan you can see them begin using NOW, download the quick, to the point eGuide, so you can quit worrying and be secure doing all the many things we know you do.
Some ADDITIONAL RESOURCES that may be helpful…
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