How to teach your kids about consent
Minus the childhood trauma and the awkward conversation
May 17, 2018
Consent is often associated with sex. Correction: Consent is often exclusively understood within the context of sex. This is why it’s such a foreign concept for parents to talk about it with their kids, much less while their kids are still toddlers or grade schoolers. The thing is, it shouldn’t be.
It’s important for kids to know about consent concerning their bodies and other aspects of their lives. An understanding of this concept will help them maneuver potentially dangerous situations with child predators and pedophiles. It also generally helps make them grow up into better people. The most basic understanding of the difference of a ‘yes’ and ‘no’ might be the key to making sure you don’t raise a sexual perpetrator, boy or girl.
That having been said, we do understand the parents’ plight. We understand how awkward or cringe-worthy it can be for parents to broach the topic of consent with their kids. Here are some tips to help simplify this task, and to spare the emotional trauma for you and your children when you do.
Reframe and respect
First, you have to change the way you think about consent. It’s not just about sex, it’s about respect. It’s about understanding that you, as a person, have autonomy or the power to control what happens to your body. It’s also about enforcing that power and respecting other people when enforcing their own autonomy.
But how do you explain the concept of respect or autonomy to kids? This video by animation and film company Blue Seat Studios simplified it with one simple statement, “This is your body. And you get to decide what you do with your body.” And then, when it comes to other people, you basically say “ditto.”
Ask for permission
Teach your kids to always ask for permission first before showing physical affection or doing anything that’ll affect another person’s body. For teens and tweens, explain to them that physical affection can range from a simple hug to acts of a sexual nature. For your teenagers, here’s another video that can help communicate things to them easier.
The power of ‘no’
Let your kids set their own boundaries, and respect it. When you have guests over, don’t force your kids to give them a kiss or a hug. Ask them first if they want a hug or a kiss, and respect it when they say ‘no.’ This way they’ll demand/expect the same when they say ‘no’ to someone else. And when another kid or adult doesn’t, they’ll know to tell someone.
Check out this other video that explains consent through tea.
Be a role model
Kids, especially the younger ones, learn by copying what they see. Walk the talk, practice what you preach and all that.
Header photos courtesy of Unsplash.com
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