I’m back and how I have missed my friends at families.com. However, my recent Protective Play tour to Maryborough was Supercalifragilisticexpialidocious. I was guest speaker at the breakfast launch of Sexual Violence Awareness month and facilitated a four-hour training in the BITSS model of Protective Behaviors. Twenty-one social science professionals attended the training and we played with everyday toys and household items in an effort to discover novel ways to instill protective behavior teachable moments into families’ homes.
Of most interest to me was the revisit of the umbrella as a protective play tool. Umbrellas are useful for protection from rain or sun. Children LOVE to play with them and therefore, an umbrella is perfect for teachable moments about protective behaviors. Umbrellas are a support network reminder for our precious children. Each spoke of the umbrella represents a person a child can talk to about anything that may be overshadowing them and creating rainy days in their sunshine of childhood.
Mary Poppins, the greatest nanny and child protector of our time, had a splendid protective umbrella, with a carved, wooden, parrot’s head as a handle. The author of Mary Poppins, P.L. Travers, just happens to have been born in Maryborough. What could I do? I just had to positively exploit Maryborough’s most famous icon of protection. Not only are the social services of Maryborough now considering manufacturing specially crafter protective play umbrellas for us to use with our children but Mary’s umbrella parrot is yet another symbol of protection that we can introduce to our children to help keep them safe.
What do parrots do? Talk, talk, talk. They repeat what they hear, what they see, and cannot be silenced at all. Yahoo – go you protective parrots. From here on in, I will be using parrot toys to help children become more parrot like and spill the beans on telling about inappropriate behaviors toward them or telling about touch that has turned from good to bad.
Dig through your toy box. If you find either an umbrella or a parrot, begin using them to protect your child from child sexual abuse. Explain that an umbrella represents safety from sun and rain. Ask your child to name the protective people in their life that they would tell bad secrets to. Every time they open their umbrella, encourage parrot type recital of their safe people. Explain to them about parrots, and where parrot learning came from (repeat, repeat, repeat, just like a parrot). Begin parrot learning by introducing a short protective sentence that will work for your child and your family situation, i.e., “I will tell my Mom if anyone tries to touch me,” or, “My body no matter where I go.”
The wonderful Mary Poppins also has a famous quote worthy of using in protective behavior teaching: “I never explain anything.” While playing with your umbrellas and parrots, tell your child about Mary’s saying and let your child know that if ever they have to say NO to an adult because the adult wants to do something rude, that there is no need to explain their reason’s for saying “no”. They just have to say “NO”, then come, and parrot off to you about what that naughty, rude person tired to do. All rules of politeness ARE OFF when adults do rude thngs to our children. Make sure the children know this.
If you want to buy some groovy, trendy Mary Poppins merchandise to help your protective play and protective parrot learning, have a look at these charming pieces of children’s and adult’s clothing: In the U.S, or, in the U.K. If you’re in Australia, like me, you just have to wait for Maryborough to release their protective behavior link to Mary Poppins Protective Play umbrellas – they’ll do it, and I’ll let you know when.