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Parents should teach kids about consent

By Ijeoma Thomas-Odia
18 September 2021   |   4:06 am
Teaching consent is an important part of educating a child on sexual health. It is, definitely, not an easy venture to talk about sex with kids.

PHOTO CREDIT: Everyday Feminism

Teaching consent is an important part of educating a child on sexual health. It is, definitely, not an easy venture to talk about sex with kids. But, children should be taught from the earliest age. They should know and understand that their voices matter and they do have choices.

That way, they will learn to respect the other person’s choices. We live in a culture saturated in sexuality—it is used to sell everything from cars to toys to clothing to the food we eat—and as parents, while many of us are more effective at talking with our children losing their virginity, and how to practice safer sex, less attention is paid to properly educating the boys, more especially about how to identify and ask for consent.

Rape is fuelled by misinformation and lack of proper education. It’s never too early to start teaching children the proper definition of consent.

Below are a few ways to teach a child about consent.

Obtaining permission is necessary. The child should understand that asking for and granting permission is important. This is most crucial when physical affection or touch is involved. This can be taught as simply as getting permission to touch someone’s toy, to sit on a friend’s chair or to play with him or her.

Have you had a child say ‘yes’ to a request and turns around to say ‘no’? This could be due to an experience or fear that has warranted them to change their mind. As a parent, your duty to is encourage them to change their mind and encourage them to respect other’s decision when they do change their mind too.

In an era where sexual predators are unidentifiable, parents should encourage children to say ‘no’ to hugs. Parents should allow their children to decide on giving and receiving physical affection when teaching sexual health.

Also, ensure that adults in children’s lives respect their decisions too.

When you have to touch your child or handle their personal belongings, lead by example, by seeking their consent. This form of practice inculcates in them the habit of seeking consent from the next person.

For example, you could say, ‘May I hold your hand?’ Can I give you a hug? This way, they decide who should touch them.

This also means that you should constantly practise and model the habit of consent in their presence.

Children learn easily from what they see. Let them see that when someone says ‘no,’ it has to be respected. Every time you respect others, you are teaching them about respect, especially when it comes to the people in the circle of trust. That is the proper way to teach kids respect. Too often, children, simply because they are kids, are made to feel that they have no say in what happens to them. There’s a balance, of course, between allowing your child to make their own choices and reinforcing the values that you find important.

It does not mean you cannot give a child the ‘no’ response, but always make sure they know you heard them and they couldn’t have their way all the time.

There are times children won’t be able to indulge all their wants, but allowing them practice consent will go a long way to teaching them about consent in all aspects of their life, especially on sexual health.

Teaching basic regard for consent in all forms will help a child understand their bodies and that of others.

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