5 mins - Article
You can start as early as 1 year old
Young children, of all genders, need teachings about giving/getting consent, how to listen to their bodies and how to listen to the needs/wants of others and respect them can start early.
All these teachings can help them into their adulthood and contribute to ending sexual assault.
Here are 5 suggestions to consider teaching your 1–5-year old’s!
1. To ask permission to before touching or hugging a friend, family member or trusted adult
Use language like “Brandon, let’s ask River if he would like a hug goodbye.” If River says “no”, say “That’s ok, Brandon! That’s River’s choice. We can wave to him instead!”
2. “No” and “stop” are important words to honour from others
By teaching them to listen to what others tell them about their needs/wants, it will also teach them that others need to honour when they say “no” or “stop.”
You could say, in a calm voice, “Savannah, Brandon said ‘no.’ That means that you need to stop what you are doing right away.”
3. They can say “no” or “stop” for themselves
Your child’s body is theirs and they have choices. Never force a child to hug, touch or kiss anyone, for any reason. If kokhum wants a kiss, but your kid doesn’t, try to give them another option, like a high-five or to blow her a kiss, instead! In the moment, try not to make this a big deal, and explain to kokhum afterwards.
4. To talk about their body and sex in ways that work for them and without shame
Teach them the words for their body parts, including genitals using scientific terms and the word in your language. You can be a safe person for them to bring all their questions and concerns.
Try saying, “I’m so glad you asked me about that!” If conversations like this make you uncomfortable, that is ok! Try practicing with a friend, your partner or someone you trust.
5. Trust their “gut feeling” and instincts
Sometimes, things just feel “weird” or “off”, or we get scared, but we don’t really know why – that’s our “gut” or our “second brain” trying to tell us something.
Teach them that their gut talks to them, they should listen to what it says. Even if they can’t fully put it into words, give them space to talk it out, listen and encourage them to come to you.
Want to know more?
Watch Consent for Kids video
Read Talking to Your Child about Sexual Health
Some information adapted from Talk with Your Kids