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My Body is a Gift Discussions: Pages 8-9

Thus far the questions I have listed have been more directed toward younger age children since these concepts are generally taught to this age group.  Older children see these pages as more of a review, though many of the discussion questions can be easily adapted to them (discussions on healthy food, frequency of bathing, the dentist’s latest evaluation of their brushing, etc).

Pages 8-9 are an introduction to a definition that will be explained in more detail throughout the rest of the book, so I don’t generally have discussion questions here.  However, older children can be engaged in a preemptive discussion of what it would look like in action to be modest, respectful, etc.

My Body is a Gift Discussions: Pages 6-7

The theme of these pages is another often overlooked area of early-childhood healthy sexuality: caring for our bodies.

Discussion Questions:

How do you keep your body clean? (bathe, toilet appropriately, brush teeth, comb hair, etc)

What foods are healthy? (In our house this would be said with dramatic uncertainty…are you noticing a pattern?  I mention this because in my experience small children respond very well to over dramatizing questions).  Do you eat those foods?  What foods do you think are not healthy? (With these and all questions, parents can suggest and instill their own values in the conversations).  Should we practice eating more healthy foods so we can take care of our special bodies?

Do you get plenty of sleep?  When do you sleep?  Why do you think sleeping is a way to take care of your body?

What is your favorite way to exercise?  What other kinds of exercise do you do? (play on the playground, ride bike, run around the house, etc.)  Do you get lots of exercise or just a little bit?

My Body is a Gift Discussions: Pages 4-5

**Theme Continuation from Pages 2-3**

One part of healthy sexuality that we don’t often consider is having an appreciation for our bodies.  Teaching our children that our bodies are wonderful and can do incredible things is an easy way to begin discussions about healthy sexuality with very small children.  These pages address this appreciation.

Discussion Questions:

What wonderful things can you do with your body?

Can you move your body? (In my house that would be said with dramatic mock uncertainty and a raised eyebrow).  Show me how your body can move!  or  What is your favorite way to move your body? or  Let’s practice different ways of moving our bodies! (Dance, martial arts, reaching high and low, etc.)

Do you learn and explore?  Yes!  I know you learn because you’re smart!  I know you explore because you’re curious and you want to figure things out.  What do you like to learn about?  (or point out different things they have learned recently).

Does your body feel?  Mine does too.  (Discuss and explore textures, and/or kinds of emotional feelings and what they mean).

My Body is a Gift Discussions: Pages 2-3

One part of healthy sexuality that we don’t often consider is having an appreciation for our bodies.  Teaching our children that bodies are good and from God is an easy way to begin discussions about healthy sexuality with very small children.  These pages address this appreciation.

Discussion questions:

Does God love you?…Yes!  He does!…And so do I!  (in our house this type of scenario is accompanied by hugs, tickles, and giggles)

Have you ever thought about your body as being a special gift?

Living your whole life in a body is a long time!  How does your body look different than it did before? (baby features, haircuts, broken bones that healed, etc.)  What can you do with your body that you couldn’t do before? (ride a bike, read, etc.)  Wow!  Look at all the amazing and wonderful things that happen as your body grows and changes!  What a neat body you have!

My Body is a Gift Discussions: Introduction

The book, “My Body is a Gift from God: Introducing Conversations to SafPageflex Persona [document: PRS0000444_00047]eguard Children” is an excellent way to begin a pattern of ongoing conversations about healthy sexuality with your children. Each page is an invitation to a variety of healthy sexuality conversations. Following the articles entitled “My Body is a Gift Discussions” will give you ideas to get your creative juices flowing. There are an unlimited number of such conversations that can begin with the pages of this book, based on the individual experiences of children and families.

Let’s get started!

Lies About Sex: Introduction

I’m planning a number of short posts that are great small-conversation starters with children ages 9+.  These conversations are follow-up conversations, once you have had talks about the process of sex.  I tell parents it is helpful to say, “now we have talked about what is real.  Let’s talk about the destructive, unhealthy, inaccurate messages you will see in the media, maybe from friends, or other places.  These messages are lies.  I want to tell you about them so you will know ahead of time and can spot them quickly.  When you see or hear one, come talk to me and tell me about it.  I’ll be proud of you for spotting them.”  To prepare for these mini-conversations you can look for posts entitled “Lies About Sex” and can also find your own lies you want to discuss.  Sometimes your kids will even find one on their own!

Children Are Like Onions

Whenever your children approach you, or when you ask them about things they have experienced, it’s always important to keep in mind that children are like onions.  When someone shares vulnerable information with another person, especially if they think highly of them, they are likely to share just a little at a time, layer by layer.  They may hold some level of shame or embarrassment around the issue.  They may be uncomfortable and want to know if you will be too.  They share a little, see how you react, and then share a little more.  So be aware that there are likely lots of layers to a situation or story.  They may only be sharing a part of how they felt (the less important part).  They may only be sharing a part of a “bad” situation.  They may only be sharing one time when something has actually happened many times.

What can you do to invite more conversation, and help them feel comfortable enough to share?

Be calm.  If you don’t get upset or emotionally heightened, they will be less likely to close off.

Be curious.  Curiosity helps you be calm, gives you space to think, and also helps you gather really important information.  Curiosity gets you gently probing for and through more layers.

Be patient and persistent.  Recognize you may not get through all the layers in a day.  But don’t assume you’ve got the full story.  If they are done for the day, wait.  Think through it yourself–be curious–look for holes or inconsistencies in the story timeline, in how they felt, etc. that may be indicative of more layers.

Trust your gut.  This is the most important part.  You may feel everything is on the table, and if so, that’s great.  But if something feels off, trust it.  You have God-given parental intuition.

The Number One Thing to Do

My number one takeaway for parents is always:


Talk to your kids about sex whenever and wherever you can.  You want to normalize the topic.  This does a few things, it makes the topic less awkward because it’s a topic that is discussed frequently.  It makes discussions less formal.  Your kids aren’t worried that if they want to have a discussion with you they have to wait until Sunday after church wearing their suit or dress, sitting straight-backed in the front parlor…you get the idea.  Because Mom and Dad talk to me when we garden, at the dinner table, while we watch TV, or driving to soccer practice, I can talk to them anytime too.

I have an aunt and uncle that are really good at this.  They regularly have discussions, often around the dinner table, about what their teenagers are experiencing outside of the home.  Their children feel comfortable enough that they come to their parents and bring up locker room talk and other things they are exposed to at school.  They don’t just take their peers’ word for it, they get the truth from their parents.

My mother also was a good example of teaching us to pay attention to the messages we received in the media, recognizing truth, and rejecting unhealthy messages.  Even though, when Mom would say, “what message is this commercial teaching us?” we would often respond with eyes rolling, “if we drink beer we will be super attractive to everyone, we will get all the ‘hot’ guys/girls, we will be super popular, and live on a beach,” it made a huge impact in my life.  While it wasn’t always about sex, I still automatically analyze commercials looking for the message they want me to believe.

Why the Porn Talk Isn’t Sufficient

Many parents want to know why they can’t just tell their kids not to look at porn.  “Why isn’t this sufficient?” they ask me.

Unfortunately we no longer live in a society where exposure to highly sexualized content is a choice.  Unhealthy sexual messages are found everywhere, not just in explicit material.  In the locker room, walking down the street, talking or joking with friends, billboards, and every aspect of the media.  If we only focus on teaching avoidance of pornography we are missing most of the picture (no pun intended).  Even if children never come in contact with explicit material (highly unlikely), they are constantly being bombarded with unhealthy sexuality.  This normalizes porn (when they are exposed, they will be less able to recognize that it is unhealthy), as well as normalizing a host of other damaging messages about their bodies, others’ bodies, and relationships.  Parents must consistently push back against these messages with truth about healthy sexuality.  Without these regular discussions of all aspects of healthy sexuality, children will grow up with warped perceptions of sexuality that can be very damaging.  Remember:  Whatever you don’t teach, the world will.

Masturbation/Self-Stimulation and Chocolate Cake

**One of the most frequently asked questions I get revolves around masturbation, or young children who have explored their body and now have a habit of stimulating themselves.  These parents believe that masturbation and habitual self-stimulation is not a form of healthy sexuality.  All parents are entitled to their own beliefs, and while I agree, if you do not, feel free to skip this post.**

While there is much to discuss on this topic, today’s questions is:

How do I explain that habitual self-stimulation is not a part of healthy sexuality when my young child says “it feels good?”

I like using analogies to help young children understand complex or difficult topics.  Self-stimulation can seem tricky, since with young children they are not masturbating or arousing themselves sexually, but it does feel good.  Help your child consider that sometimes things that are not okay may still seem fun, or feel good.  It may be helpful to talk about picking your nose, or stealing and eating a chocolate cake.

“What if someone thought it was super fun to pick their nose and it tasted super yummy to eat their boogers?  Would that make it okay, just because they liked it?  No.  How about stealing and eating a chocolate cake?  Is that okay?  No.  But what if it tasted amazing and you really wanted to, is it okay then?  No.  You’re right.  Some things may seem fun or feel good, but just because we think they are doesn’t mean that it’s okay to do.

God gave us our bodies as a special gift and He wants us to use our bodies in the way He has designed them to be used.  It feels good to touch yourself there (your vulva/penis) because your body is preparing to be a good husband/wife and father/mother.  That is the time God has designed those special parts of our body to be used.  [If the child is very young and you have not explained the process of sex yet:  When you get older we will teach you more about this.]  So even if it feels good, it is important to do what God asks—which is to save those feelings for later/marriage—because He is the one who gave us our bodies and teaches us about taking care of them.”

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