Talk to your kids about consent early
Talkwithyourkids.org has some great ideas on how to introduce the concept of consent to your kids. They have tips for ages 1-5, 5-12 and teens. It’s best to begin introducing these concepts in toddlerhood so here are some of their tips for ages 1-5.
1. Teach children to ask permission before touching or embracing a playmate. Use langauge such as, “Sarah, let’s ask Joe if he would like to hug bye-bye.”
2. Help create empathy within your child by explaining how something they have done may have hurt someone. Use language like, “I know you wanted that toy, but when you hit Mikey, it hurt him and he felt very sad.”
3. Teach kids to help others who may be in trouble. Talk to kids about helping other children and alerting trusted grown-ups when others need help.⠀
4. Teach your kids that “no” and “stop” are important words and should be honored. One way to explain this may be, “Sarah said ‘no’, and when we hear ‘no’ we always stop what we’re doing immediately. No matter what.”⠀
Also teach your child that his or her “no’s” are to be honored. Explain that just like we always stop doing something when someone says “no”, that our friends need to always stop when we say “no”, too.
5. Never force a child to hug, touch or kiss anybody, for any reason. If Grandma is demanding a kiss, and your child is resistant, offer alternatives by saying something like, “Would you rather give Grandma a high-five or blow her a kiss, maybe?”
6. Let children to talk about their body without embarrassment. Teach them the correct words for their genitals, and make yourself a safe place for talking about bodies and sex.
Say, “I’m so glad you asked me that!” If you don’t know how to answer their questions the right way just then, say, “I’m glad you’re asking me about this, but I want to look into it. Can we talk about it after dinner?” and make sure you follow up with them when you say you will.
7. Talk about “gut feelings” or instincts. Sometimes things make us feel weird, or scared, or yucky and we don’t know why. Teach them that this “belly voice” is sometimes correct, and that if they ever have a gut feeling that is confusing, they can always come to you for help.