No Means No! by Jayneen Sanders is a book for young children that teaches them to be assertive and to start practising consent by saying no.
This book teaches children about personal boundaries, respect and consent. A pretty important message to start instilling from a young age!
No Means No! by Jayneen Sanders is ideal for children between the ages of 3 – 7 years of age.
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You can also watch a video review of No Means No! by Jayneen Sanders or read the transcription.
Hi, I’m Cath Hak and today we’re looking at another book by Janine Sanders. It’s called No Means No and is a great, little book.
At the back, the book says it’s talking about, ‘Rights, personal boundaries, respect, consent and choice.’ Sanders writes a lot of good books on these topics. A lot of her books are for younger kids, about three to six-years old.
To start off, the book shows a picture of a little girl and her aunt. At the top, it reads ‘When Aunt Jennie asks me for a kiss and I don’t want to, no means no.’
This is important. Culturally, there is an expectation that children must kiss their older family members when they greet them. As the book further explains, ‘I can choose to blow her a kiss, or I can choose to do something else.’
I love this wording because the child still has to greet the aunt, but in a way that’s appropriate for them. This way, the child is still being polite. They’re not ignoring the aunt or just running off, but rather being more comfortable around her.
Then Sanders continues with, ‘When its bath time and mum asks if she can wash and dry my private parts I say no thanks, I can do it all by myself!’ Again, the book repeats this idea of no means no.
Then, it continues with, ‘I can wash and dry my own parts and I am the boss of my body.’ This idea the book shares is also important. Part of keeping kids safe is building this idea of dependence. This idea that they’re the boss of their own body.
This means that you can’t just go behind your kid and suddenly kiss or cuddle them whenever you feel like it. You will need to respect them if they say no to kisses and cuddles.
This is all part of keeping them safe.
On the next page, Sanders brings up yet another topic to think about, ‘Sometimes my big cousin looks after me. We run and have fun, but he wants to wrestle, and tickle, and I don’t want to. No means no.’ This book begins to talk about playing with other kids and safety. This is because with kids three years or older, inappropriate things can end up happening.
The book next talks about things the cousins could do instead, ‘We can build a giant sandcastle in the yard.’ Instead of doing something that the child might be uncomfortable with, they do something they can both have fun with. This helps the two kids play together and teach them social skills.
‘When someone asks to hold my hand at school when I want to walk all by myself, no means no.’ This page talks about being able to say no to friends or classmates. Yet again, something important for kids to learn.
‘When people ask me things and I say no I don’t mean maybe, and I don’t mean I am not sure. What I really mean is no.’ Now we’re talking about consent. This is so important because recently there has been more media coverage with people not listening to consent or lack of. Young men, especially, are known to struggle with this. So, teaching consent at a young age is vital.
No means No is a great opportunity to bring up this conversation early. In their younger years, you’re building the foundation for your kid’s beliefs and morals. If you begin teaching consent and ownership over themselves, they’ll believe it for the rest of their life. Which, I think is fantastic.
Now, here is the last page. At the end Sanders writes, ‘Even though I am small I can be strong, and I have a voice that’s loud and clear. So, when I say no, no means no.’ This finishes it off nicely and reinstates the points.
After the story, there are a couple of discussion pages. So, pages with questions, suggestions, and all that stuff. Sanders is good at breaking this all down for parents at the end. I personally love it, especially if you’re out of ideas.
No means No is a fantastic book. I think you should use this for your younger kids. It has a very child friendly way to explain protective behaviours and sex education. It brings in new conversations and a good environment that anyone can understand.
Anyway, I hope that helps, Cheers.
I'm Cath, a sex educator living in Australia with my husband and 2 kids. I help parents to talk about sex (with less cringe and more confidence) and to empower their child to make smart sexual decisions. You can join my online parent support group here and visit my shop for helpful resources.