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New book to help young children set clear boundaries in social situations

Author Jennifer Becker said she was inspired to write the book when she realized resources to help younger kids potentially avoid abusive situations were lacking.
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Now that her daughter is four years old, the gap in resources for young children to learn about setting boundaries became even more apparent, author Jennifer Becker said. RACHEL NARVEY/St. Albert Gazette

A St. Albert community development co-ordinator has written a children’s book to help kids set healthy and clear boundaries around people they know. 

Published May 19 and titled I’m Polite But I Know My Traffic Light: A Child’s Guide for Listening to Their Intuition, the book walks readers through different scenarios they might face around others. By associating their feelings about each situation with a traffic light, readers learn when to say no to a situation that makes them uncomfortable, and notify a trusted adult. 

Author Jennifer Becker said she was inspired to write the book when she realized resources to help younger kids use their intuition in social situations were lacking, especially those about avoiding situations that could potentially lead to sexual abuse. 

“I think we do a really good job of teaching our kids not to talk to strangers,” Becker said. “But I also think we don’t always have those kinds of conversations with our kids about family members and neighbours.”

Becker said she hopes her book — which is geared for children in kindergarten to Grade 3 — can add a different perspective to the mindset that children should always be polite around the adults they know.  

“You can still be polite and respectful of adults,” Becker said. “But also, I think there are times where you have to remove yourself from situations where maybe the adult doesn’t have the best interest of the child at heart.”

Becker said the idea for the book came to her while she was going for a run at the beginning of the pandemic, when she had some extra time on her hands. 

“I was just thinking, ‘Wow, there’s got to be a way I can put this information together so kids can understand,’” Becker said. 

While Becker thought through the title and majority of the book within a few days after the initial idea struck, being new to the publishing process meant creating a finished product would take more time, she said. 

Overall, the process took a year-and-a-half. After finding enthusiastic illustrator Pandu Permana on a Facebook group, and connecting with Victoria, B.C., publisher Tellwell, Becker said the process has been smooth sailing.  

“I feel like it was meant to be,” Becker said. “Everything came together so beautifully.”

Becker said her extensive experience working with children and families, including time spent as a family school liaison counsellor, helped position her to write the book. 

Additionally, now that her daughter is four years old, the gap in resources for young children to learn about setting boundaries and listening to their intuition became even more apparent, Becker said. 

While the topic of avoiding sexual abuse can be uncomfortable for parents to navigate, Becker feels educating children is an essential component of prevention.  

“It’s not something that you want to talk about or think about,” Becker said. “But you want to do all you can to try to prevent those negative experiences.”

Part of Becker’s focus in creating the book has been ensuring the experience of reading it is light-hearted and interesting. The back of the book includes an activity sheet where children can practice identifying what traffic light they feel matches different situations by colouring it in either red, yellow, or green. 

“If it looks like a manual, you’re not going to want to engage in it at all,” Becker said with a laugh.

Ultimately, Becker said she hopes her resource will be utilized by parents, teachers, counselors, and anyone working with families.  

“I’m just really happy this resource will get out there,” Becker said. “Even if it just helps a few kids, I’ll feel like it’s making a difference.” 


Rachel Narvey

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