5 Ways to Teach Children Consent in Non-Sexual Spaces
During one of my sexuality education training at a secondary school, I asked the students if they had heard of the word consent and none of them had heard of it before. I was alarmed by this until it dawned on me that during my time in school I had also never heard of that word before- In fact, the word is still fairly new to a number of us.
This is why I believe when we discuss consent, we need to start from the basics – discussing consent for what it fundamentally is- Respecting People’s Decisions and Personal Space.
So before addressing sexual consent, we must discuss how to respect people’s decisions even in non-sexual spaces, because if one cannot give or seek consent in non-sexual spaces, there’s very little chance that they will be able to in a sexual space where the risks are higher.
In this post; I will be sharing 5 ways to teach children consent without having to bring up sex, as this allows guardians to properly embed the concept of consent as a normal practice in the lives of the children.
- Teach Your Children To Say NO
Teaching kids to say no might seem like an insignificant gesture, but the impact goes a long way especially in African cultures where children are not encouraged to be assertive or disagree with an adult as its seen as disrespectful.
This kind of parenting conditions children to accept anything an adults says or does as superior and correct, passing the message that their own opinions and decisions do not matter when talking to adults.
Sadly, people who invade personal space or take advantage of kids often hope that children are conditioned in that way, as they are unable to challenge them.
But! In as much as we must teach children to say NO; it’s more important to respect their no! Nothing is more confusing to a child than when you teach them to say no but don’t respect their decisions when they do; thus they learn to accept that their NO is only valid when speaking to people younger than them.
You can watch the 1- minute video below to learn practical ways to handle a child’s rejection.
- Teach You Children To ALWAYS ask for permission
We need to teach children to always ask for permission before taking or touching what doesn’t belong to them, no matter how close they are to the person.
This is something very common in the family setting; people go to the fridge and take something that someone else put in there without permission or wear their siblings’ clothes without asking them- But because they are family we assume it’s perfectly okay to do that; it is not okay and children must be taught that.
We all know how annoying and invasive it feels when people go through our stuff or take something without asking; this feeling doesn’t automatically disappear because the person is family, we simply learn to normalize such behavior and diminish the feelings associated with it.
- Get A Strong Positive Male Figure For Boy Children
Due to the society we find ourselves, it can be very easy for young boys to think and view others as objects meant to fulfill their own need; an idea reinforced due to stereotypes and countless gender inequalities. However, having a strong male figure open up to boys about how the world works and how certain stereotypes can affect them and their relationships with people goes a long way.
It is no secret that the job of instilling values and morals is seen as a woman’s job, but boys need to learn from men that they trust and respect. When boys have men they trust and admire be vulnerable with them, it opens up a chance for them to see the world with compassion, allowing them become more sensitive and respectful of others
- Teach Kids Not To Move People Out Of the Way With Their Hands
This is one that can only be taught when the ADULT themselves adhere to the rule; the child can only learn this by watching their guardian respect other people bodies and personal space. I know this is very common, even I myself am guilty of moving people with my hands when I need them to move out of the way.
This is wrong! We need to be able to tell the person to move without the need to touch them! But, I notice that rarely do we do this with people who are older than us; it is easier for us to move our peers or someone younger out of the way. So if we have the patience to wait and allow the person older to move on their own, we can do the same with people younger or our peers.
- Teach Kids Not To Give Out People’s Personal Information Without Permission
It almost seems like common sense but this needs to be taught to children; they need to be taught to always ask before giving out the information of someone else no matter how close they are to the person.
It shows respect for the person’s privacy!
There are many instances that consent can be taught in non-sexual spaces; these are simply a few ways to let children understand the importance of seeking permission and respecting people’s decisions.
I always encourage people to make every moment a teachable moment. You can watch the 1-minute video to learn more about this.
So tell me other ways, you believe that we can teach or talk about consent with children without referring to sex.