You Want Me To Do What?!?!

Last summer, the director of our local Child Advocacy Center told me she thought I looked like I was a great dancer.  She said, “You’re so tall, you must be amazing on the dance floor.”  WHAT?!?!  We were having a professional conversation at the time in her office, mind you, and somehow my dancing skills were being complimented.  If she had ever seen me dance (or walk around for that matter) she would have known that I had no skills in that area whatsoever.  None.

Little did I know but she was setting me up for a big invitation.  She wanted ME to be a dancing ‘star’ in the Child Advocacy Center of East Alabama’s annual fundraiser, Dancing Stars of East Alabama.  Dancing Stars of East Alabama is an annual dance competition in Auburn between 10 couples (one pro and one star).  Even though I’m a child psychologist and NOT a dancer, there was no way I could say no to doing my part to raise money for this organization and the children that they serve.

You see, when I was a child there was no specific place that victims of child sexual abuse and their families could go to receive the support and the services that they so desperately needed.  Fast forward to today and Child Advocacy Centers across our country unite the police, courts, physicians, therapists, and child protective services together as a team; a multi-disciplinary team that helps children and their families cope with the devastating realities of child sexual abuse.

Last year in my community, 329 children came to the Child Advocacy Center of East Alabama to tell their story of abuse and receive free therapy services.  Unfortunately that number is only the tip of the iceberg.  1 in 4 girls and 1 in 6 boys will be sexually abused by their 18th birthday.  Many of them will wait years to disclose that they were abused and some will never tell their story.  I knew I had to help, which meant I was going to have to dance! [Read more...]

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What A Long, Strange Trip It’s Been

Hard to believe, but today ChildPsychMom.com turns two!  The terrible twos, great!  Seems like only yesterday that I wrote my first post, Do As I Say, Not As I Do.  What I wrote then still applies.  Parenting is hard work.  Period.  Ph.D. in child psychology or not!  People come up to me all the time to tell me that they are working hard to try and follow my advice.  You know what I tell them?  ME TOO!  It’s not too hard to give advice, what’s harder is actually following it.  These past two years of writing have helped me see that so clearly.  As parents, I truly believe that what’s most important is that we love our children and try to do our best in raising them.  Trying our best doesn’t mean that we’re perfect.  ‘Perfectly Imperfect’ is my goal more often than not.

With that being said, if you’ve been with me since the beginning you’ve likely noticed a shift in my writing.  Over the past year, a series of events caused me to stop and think about my focus.  Those events would take a book to describe, but suffice it to say that I felt a push that I could not ignore to work towards the prevention of child sexual abuse in my own community and more broadly in our nation.  Given that the issue of child sexual abuse is what brought me to the field of child psychology in the first place, that push didn’t exactly surprise me.  But it certainly did overwhelm me! [Read more...]

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Child Sexual Abuse Prevention: Books For Kids

Talking with your kids about sexual abuse is tough.  I know, I’ve been there.  Despite knowing what I want to say to my kids, sometimes when I’m in the moment talking about this difficult topic even I am at a loss for words!  But I know if I want to prevent child sexual abuse, I need to actively educate my children on how to stay safe.  Although I firmly believe that protecting children is the responsibility of adults, kids still need to know how to respond if someone does touch them inappropriately.

Earlier this year I wrote a post about how to talk to your kids about sexual abuse, and I forgot to include one very helpful conversation starter.  Books!  As a child psychologist and a mom, I use books all the time to get kids talking.  It’s amazing how much easier it is for children (and adults) to open up with the help of an engaging story.  With that in mind, I wanted to share a few of my favorite books for kids on the topic of child sexual abuse.  I hope these will be as helpful to your family as they have been to mine:

  • U Touch I Tell.  This new release is a precious story that is fun and empowering.  That’s right, FUN!  It’s true.  Even books on child sexual abuse can be entertaining for kids.  In the story a teacher is talking to her class about the importance of telling an adult if anyone touches them inappropriately.  It’s simply described as the part of the body that’s covered by a bathing suit.  The class is then rewarded for learning about ‘U Touch I Tell’ and goes to a theme park where the concept is reinforced.  When this book arrived at my house earlier this week, my 8 year old daughter read it immediately.  She loved it and we were able to have a very easy teaching moment with NO AWKWARDNESS!  True story!  My 4 year old will also be able to follow this book, and will probably be walking around the house repetitively chanting ‘U Touch I Tell’ by the end of the weekend!  I’m honored to have written the forward to this book and hope you’ll find the ‘U Touch I Tell’ message as helpful as I have. [Read more...]
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