Teaching kids respect for their own and others' bodies helps empower them and reduces their chances of becoming victims. Explore and review the strategies outlined below to teach your child about asking for consent and setting boundaries.
Consent means giving someone a choice about touch or actions and respecting their answer. With children, we often use the language "asking for permission."
Ready to Talk About Consent?
You might not be... and that's okay! Watch this brief video to learn more about consent and how to talk to your kids about it.
It Starts With Respect
Asking For Consent
Ask for consent in everyday interactions with your child.
“Do you want a hug goodbye today? We could also wave or high five.”
“Can I sit beside you while we read this book?”
"Can I tell your teacher that your grandma died?"
“It's OK if you don't want a goodnight hug."
Model that asking for consent is an ongoing process.
“Do you need a break from tickling, or are tickles still okay with you?”
Teach your child to ask for consent with other children.
“Do you want to play with the red or the blue car?” OR "Do you want to hold hands when we walk to lunch?"
Besides consent, kids need to learn that they can set boundaries and limits on when and how their bodies are touched and by whom. Some tips regarding boundaries follow.
Boundaries are a person's right to choose what is comfortable for them. Teach your child to set limits on when and how their bodies are touched and by whom.
Teach Your Child
- Your body belongs to you
- You get to decide about your own body
- No one should touch you without permission
- Consent means always choosing to respect others' boundaries
Talking About Consent
Ask The Experts
Consent can be part of the conversation at any age! Consent, or asking for permission, is a normal part of everyday life. You can practice making consent part of the conversation with an infant or toddler by verbalizing that you are going to pick them up or talk through the actions you do with them. As children become more verbal, you can model how to ask for permission and respond appropriately when you do or do not receive permission from another person. Conversations about consent can be related to sharing toys and games, and understanding and respecting the personal space of others.
It shouldn’t be a one time-conversation. Children are receiving messages from all sorts of places, and as an adult, you can help them make sense of these messages. There are always opportunities in everyday situations to discuss consent and boundaries. Check out this resource to learn more.
It’s our responsibility as adults to keep kids safe. This means we need to be thoughtful about who they spend time with. We also need to educate our family, friends, neighbors, and coaches about our expectations around boundaries and consent. Explain to family members that you want to teach your kids about body autonomy; so if a child doesn’t want to sit on Grandma’s lap or give a hug or kiss, then it’s up to Grandma to respect these boundaries and she can offer an alternative, like a high five!