3 Easy Ways to Teach Children About Consent
It’s important to teach children about consent from a young age. Often when people think about the subject of consent they think about sexual assault or rape. We need to teach children about consent before they’re even in their teens. As children they need to learn about body autonomy, forced intimacy and feeling uncomfortable.
Use Proper Names for Body Parts
It’s important to teach children the proper terms for their genitals. This is so that they can communicate clearly if someone is touches them in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. Referring to them as their ‘bits’ or ‘down there’ isn’t helpful at a time when you need them to be precise.
This has the added benefit of when they have hurt their genital region or have an infection they can tell a health professional exactly what the problem is.
For girls I think it’s really important not to demonise their sexual organs. As a society we have this issue with sex being a dirty and shameful thing, when in fact it’s a very natural thing. Using the correct words for their genitals normalises them as if they were any other part of the body.
Don’t Force Intimacy
We live about 2 hours drive away from our nearest relatives so we often have family stay over for visits and means that greetings and goodbyes can be a bit emotional. Often they will say to ragamuffin ‘are you going to give me a hug?’ or ‘are you going to kiss me goodbye?’ but ragamuffin is never forced to do it.
Stop Playing if Someone Feels Uncomfortable
If we’re playing tickling games I always stress the point that if mummy, daddy or ragamuffin say stop we must stop. Even if the person who wants to stop is laughing.
We recently had ragamuffin’s aunt and uncle visit, and her aunt encouraged ragamuffin to tickle her uncle’s feet even though he said no. I made a point of saying to ragamuffin ‘if your uncle says no then we mustn’t tickle’ and she was fine with that.
This was illustrated beautifully in an episode of Doc McStuffins, where Gloria the giggly Gorilla tickles another toy even though he asked her to stop. Doc steps in and explains that it’s important to listen when someone says no, even if you think the other person is enjoying it.
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