Tips to Talk: Consent and Boundaries

Let me stop and say how proud I am of you for having BIG conversations with your kiddo, even if it feels scary and uncomfortable. We know 95% of sexual abuse in children is preventable through education, conversations, and awareness! That statistic is eye-opening and makes these conversations matter even more! 

April is sexual assault awareness month, and we will continue to share ways we can prepare our kids. Today's topic is consent and boundaries, which are crucial for their understanding of personal autonomy and respectful relationships that will follow them throughout their lives. 

  1. Start early: Introduce the concept of consent and boundaries in age-appropriate ways from a young age. For example, teaching about asking before hugging or touching others and calling body parts by their proper names. 
  2. Use simple language: Tailor your language to the child's age and understanding. Use clear and simple language to explain what consent means and why it's importantBright Littles tools can help you if you are feeling unsure about what age-appropriate is for littles. 
  3. Teach body autonomy: Help children understand that their bodies belong to them and that they have the right to decide who can touch them and how. Encourage them to speak up if they feel uncomfortable.
  4. Role-play scenarios: Use role-playing to help kids understand what consent looks like in different situations. Practice saying "yes" and "no" assertively and respecting others' boundaries.
  5. Encourage questions: Create a safe and open environment where children feel comfortable asking questions about consent and boundaries. Be prepared to answer their questions honestly and without judgment. 
    1. Questions to get you started: 
      1. Do you know what consent means? 
      2. What does it mean to say "yes" or "no"?
      3. Do you like it when someone asks before giving you a hug?
      4. What would you do if someone kept asking you to do something after you said "no"?
      5. Who is a trusted adult you can talk to if you feel uncomfortable? 
  6. Use teachable moments: Use everyday situations to discuss consent and boundaries, such as asking permission before borrowing a toy or respecting personal space. 
  7. Discuss digital consent: Teach children about the importance of consent in online interactions, such as asking before tagging someone in a photo or sending messages. Our Digital Citizenship Journal is an excellent guide to online safety conversations. 
  8. Model consent: Be a role model for respectful behavior by always asking for consent and respecting others' boundaries in your interactions with your child and others. My husband and I practice this in front of my daughter so she can see us exercising consent and boundaries in front of her. 
  9. Address peer pressure: Teach children how to recognize and resist peer pressure that may involve crossing their boundaries or violating someone else's consent. Make sure they know who their trusted adults are and talk to them about how to remove themselves from a situation that feels uncomfortable. Our Safety Journal can be a helpful tool if you need some help! 

It's important to remember this is an ongoing conversation. Consistency will reinforce the importance of consent and boundaries and help children internalize these values as they grow older!