Contrary to popular belief, teaching your kids about consent has nothing to do with teaching them about sex. More and more cases of sexual assault are being reported on a daily basis, so the time for teaching your kids about their own boundaries is more important now than it ever was before.
Why you need to be teaching your kids about consent
None of us wants our kids to grow up and become a victim of a sexual offender, so we have to teach them about consent early on in their lives. Some parents might argue that discussing consent with a kid at an early age is inappropriate; consent does NOT revolve around sex. It’s all about boundaries and having your kids understand why they’re important.
When we give consent, it means we give someone permission to do something now or in the future. According to Stacey Honowitz, supervisor of the Florida State Attorney’s Office Sex Crimes and Child Abuse Unit, talking to kids about consent in super important. When we help our kids establish firm boundaries, we’re teaching them about consent. And we can do this in everyday situations. If your kid wants a cookie, and you give consent and say yes, he or she can have it. If you say no, your kid has to respect your boundaries or face the consequences.
How and when to teach your kids about consent
As soon as you’ve set up and enforced some boundaries at home, you can start teaching lessons of consent that revolve more around personal boundaries. You can have these types of discussions with kids as young as four years old, as soon as they show a curiosity about their bodies.
It is simple really. You start by telling them that their privates are THEIR private parts and that NO always means NO. You teach them that if they go over and touch somebody without their permission, they can get into some serious trouble. This is all it actually boils down to.
When you teach these lessons, you’ll need to model the right kind of behaviour, which can be tricky. It means that you will have to respect your kid’s personal boundaries. When he or she doesn’t want to be hugged, kissed, or cuddled, we can’t force the idea of hugging, kissing, or cuddling them.
Your kid has the right to say no. You have to teach them that they’re the boss of their own body and that they can and HAVE to say no when something feels uncomfortable.