The concept of consent and teaching it has been a challenging subject among parents. Well, so is positive parenting in general. Teaching consent at an early age can help your children protect themself and become more well-rounded as an individual. As your child grows, the conversation on consent will be more complicated if not addressed earlier on. To the relief of many parents, you can get started with simpler scenarios and principles.
Here are a few age-appropriate ways on how to teach consent to your child:
Teaching consent isn’t always about one’s private parts and unwanted touching; most of the time, it’s also best seen in everyday things. A good way to introduce the concept of consent is to always ask for permission before they hug someone, take someone’s toy, or climb with other children in the playground. Asking for and granting permission is important, especially when it comes to physical affection. Letting your child learn about asking permission will help them understand the very concept of consent.
Developing consistent, correct, and scientific vocabulary such as touch, body, vagina, and penis will help your child understand the foundational concept of consent.
Using codes or slang words will only make your kids think that those terms need to be kept secret or are embarrassing. These indirect words might also endanger your toddlers.
Encourage your children to say and respect the words “no” or “stop” when they or someone else feels uncomfortable with hugs, touch, kisses, tickles or actions. This will help your child to better express themselves. Teaching them how to say “no” will also teach them to respect others saying “no”.
You can teach them to shake hands or simply say “hello” or “goodbye” when they are uneasy with showing physical affection. Don’t forget to also advise your family that you let your children decide how they greet people.
Remind your child to report to you right away when they’re in an uncomfortable situation, and when they feel like someone violated their privacy. Have a ‘no secrets’ policy. Let them know that we do not keep secrets and they can feel safe around you. Allow them to talk freely about their feelings or anything that is bothering them. Assuring and listening to your children’s explanations will help them know that their voice matters. This will not only make them feel safer around you, but will also help them grow safe spaces with people they trust.
Before everything else, always remember that your child will always look up to you and learn more by what you do than what you say. When teaching consent to your child, always remember that you are a role model. Let them see that when someone says “no”, you respect it. Everytime you respect others, you are teaching them how to respect others as well.
In this age, teaching the importance of consent is very crucial. It may take time for your child to fully absorb the concept of consent, but once they do, it will help them better protect themselves, understand their own needs, and respect others.
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Sources: degendinginnocence.org, parents.com, sexedrescue.com