Consent is a Life Skill
“Consent is a life skill that should be practiced long before it has anything to do with sex.” -- Sex Positive Families
I often get asked why I start teaching body science to children ages 2+. So why do we teach early and how does this reinforce the concept of consent?
My body is mine.
Children gain control of their world by naming it. With each new word, the child grows in understanding and power.
I can talk about my body.
When all body parts can be named, including the private body parts, the child can talk about it, ask questions about it and understand its specialness.
I feel good about my body.
Teaching early allows children to feel good about their bodies and sets the foundation for the development of positive attitudes about sexuality.
I can learn about my body.
Children are information sponges. Learning about their bodies from trusted adults allows children to avoid mythical information that they may hear from cousins and friends, the media and on the playground.
My family shares important information with me about my body.
Teaching early allows caregivers to pass on their family values, culture and traditions.
I can ask for help for my body when I am little.
When children injure their private body parts, they are more likely to ask for help from adults who have talked to them about these special parts.
I can maintain communication about my body with trusted adults.
When children learn about their bodies, including the private body parts, they are more likely to come to us throughout the (pre) teen years.
I feel empowered in my body.
Even though it may be difficult to talk about the private parts of the body, it empowers the next generation to live healthier lives.
Understanding consent keeps people safer in this world.
Teaching about consent from an early age allows children to develop a sense of autonomy over their body. They learn to understand about boundaries with loving support from trusted adults. They can begin to identify what touches they like and what touches they don’t like. They can communicate an enthusiastic yes or a firm, but respectful no. They can be taught about safe, unsafe and secret touch. Learning about consent from a very young age could support a much needed shift in the world from unsafe/abusive interactions to a more secure feeling and community safety.
Books are a great way to introduce new concepts like consent.
Here are my top picks for this subject:
1. Your Body Belongs to You, by Cornelia Spelman
2. Let’s Talk About Body Boundaries, Consent and Respect, by Jayneen Sanders
3. These are my Eyes. This is my Nose. This is my Vulva. These are my Toes, by Lexx Brown-James
4. C is for Consent, by Eleanor Morrison
5. No More Kisses for Bernard, by Niki Daly