February 27, 2023
A 2017 report about misogyny and sexual harassment from Harvard Gradate School of Education discovered that around 60% of young people never spoke to their parents about the importance of not continuing to ask someone to have sex after they had said no. Likewise, just under 60% of young people did not speak to their parents about the importance of not having sex with someone who is intoxicated or impaired to make decisions about sex. Consent can be a tricky concept for children and teens to wrap their heads around. Children and teens may not always understand it and can put themselves in tricky situations due to a lack of understanding. That is why it is vital as a parent to teach your children about consent from an early age. This will help consent to become engrained in them so that they can say no, and understand no.
The easier and most effective way to give kids a solid foundation when it comes to consent in their early years is to re-enforce some basic principles.
- Get children to wash themselves to increase body awareness
From a very young age, one of the most important principles to reenforce when it comes to consent is the idea of permission. Children should be encouraged to ask before touching each other and respect others when they don't want to be touched. It is also good practice to ensure that you maintain firm boundaries with your kids in regard to other matters. Consent does not function uniquely in regard to body content and sexual matters, it is an overarching mindset that effects ones whole life. It is good practice not to let your kids disobey you when you instruct them not to do something as this may lead to belief that authority can be overridden.
Encouraging your child to think about feelings of others is anther sure fire way to make sure that they think about consent. Ask them how they think their actions make others feel, especially after a disagreement. Another good way to get kids thinking about empathy is to think about facial expressions. Getting children to begin reading body language at a young age is a great way to re-enforce their feelings towards one another.
Teach your children to look after and care for others who are in trouble. Always praise your child for helping others. Encourage your child to be aware of others and their feelings and notice when people are upset and try and make a positive impact. You might want to show examples of times when people should be helped and set a good example that way. However, it is also important to note that adults should not ask children to help them with things. Adults should only ask other adults to do serious things.
Teach your child that they have control over their own body and that no-one ever has the right to tell them what to do or touch. A child should never be forced to hug, touch or kiss anybody for any reason. Another way in which parents can start to help very young children take control of their own bodies is by encouraging them to wash their own genitals. It is good to show children that their private parts are private and should only be touched by them. Finally, think about giving your child control over the way they speak about their body. Encourage them to talk about their private parts by referring to their actual names.
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