Consent is a concept that is difficult to explain to children. Parents also shy away from discussing this topic with their children because they are afraid that they are piling something heavy on a child of a young age. What parents need to understand is that children who understand consent from a younger age will be adults who respect the word “no” than thinking that it’s an assault on their ego.
Whether your little boy tries to kiss the little girl in your neighbor or whether your girl wants to play with the neighbor’s kid, they need to know that they should ask the other person first. And if the other person says no, they need to respect it and not go ahead with the action. The consent can be tricky for children to understand and simply saying “no, it’s bad manners” is not enough.
They may have many questions and communication is the key. The following are some communication methods that you can try with your child for making him or her understand the concept of consent.
Communication with kids about consent:
Teaching to ask for consent-
Kids, for the most part, are impulsive but not vengeful. They would never hurt someone on purpose. If they touch someone’s stationery, colors, or their hand without asking, it’s only because they haven’t been taught the concept of consent. Parents often see children hugging and think it’s adorable. If the other kid doesn’t cry after the hug then the concept of consent is never explained. But the moment parents see their child pick something without asking, they should explain to them to ask for consent and if the answer is no, then to respect the other person’s boundary.Also check: How To Raise Your Child To Be Independent
Consent isn’t constant and universal-
Many times kids ask their friends if they can borrow their pencil and their friend says yes. But this isn’t applicable for all the scenarios. Practice with them the habit of asking for permission before they take anything from anyone and especially before touching someone. The consent once given, can also be taken away.
The answer “no”-
You need to preach what you teach. If a child is taught to ask for permission before touching someone or someone’s items, they should also receive the same treatment. Before taking the items from your child’s bag ask for their consent to take what is theirs. If they refuse and say no for visiting an uncle or eating something, you have to respect that as well. When their no will be taken accountable, they will understand the value and importance of no.
Conversations about consent can be hard to have. The children will never understand the vastness of their importance in one sitting. They need to be constantly reintroduced to the topic if we wish to raise a society wherein adults follow through others’ consent as well as respect “no”. We have to teach them until they completely learn it. And remember, no matter how difficult and awkward the conversion is, communication that is open and honest is the key for raising a good child.