What is consent and how do you teach it? Everywhere I look, people are stressing how important it is to teach our children about consent. The general consensus is that girls need to know how to say no and boys need to know that no means no.
I don’t agree, there isn’t a right or wrong way to teach consent, however I don’t believe its gender specific. How can I expect my boys to understand consent in relation to others without teaching them about consent in relation to their own bodies?
My children aren’t rude…
They will say hello or goodbye but they don’t need to give a hug or a kiss if they are uncomfortable. 90% of children that are sexually abused, were abused by somebody they know. My children aren’t being rude but they need to know that they can say no to an adult and they will be listened to.
I cannot emphasise this enough, I remind my boys that they should not have secrets and that they will always be believed. This does result in W oversharing with the Uber driver about the time B did a poo in the bath, that his nana died from cancer which is when you have naughty body cells, too much food is unhealthy and maybe that’s why dinosaurs are extinct but he hopes to see a pterodactyl in real life one day, leaving a shell-shocked man after an intense 5min drive. The point is, I will never tell him to be quiet or that nobody wants to hear what he has to say, he will always be listened to and believed.
Teapot, peepee, willy
What’s wrong with saying penis? An important part of teaching consent is also teaching correct vocabulary, sometimes a child lacks the correct vocabulary to report abuse. A child using the correct vocabulary should not be a red flag, a child using vocabulary of a sexual nature is a red flag.
Finally, no (and other things) mean no
Once I have made sure my boys understand how consent applies to them, I make sure they understand how consent applies to others.
You’re tickling your brother and he is saying no? STOP
Your game is making another child cry? STOP
You took something from somebody else without asking? DON’T
This is a narrative I plan to continue throughout their lives. Consent is about respecting and understanding your own personal boundaries in order to apply it to others regardless of gender.