Hey there! Let’s talk about something important—developing healthy relationships with our children. We all want our little ones to grow up with a sense of respect, empowerment, and ability to form meaningful relationships, right? A big part of that is teaching them about boundaries and consent in their interactions with others.

What is a Boundary?

It’s an invisible barrier set forth to define how one is to be treated by other people and how one is to treat other people. So, by teaching children about boundaries, we’re helping to develop their sense of respect for themselves and respect for others’ boundaries.

What is Consent?

Consent is giving permission or agreement in advance to some activity, with willingness and joyfulness. It is about respecting each other’s autonomous space and understanding that one has no right over the other one without their consent. Teaching children about consent from an early age grounds the foundation for them to understand and respect personal boundaries as they grow up.

How do we enforce boundaries and consent?

  • Lead by Example: Kids tend to learn from the way adults around them behave and treat others. Practice good boundaries and communication practices within your relationships and around other people.
  • Start Early: Boundaries and consent are never too young to start teaching children about. Use language and examples age-appropriate, so they are easily understood.
  • Use Everyday Scenarios: Use everyday life situations as learning opportunities to discuss boundaries and consent with your children. Whether it is asking permission to hug a friend or to give them a little space, look for opportunities to reinforce these concepts in daily life.
  •  Allow Open Dialogue: Provide a safe space for kids to ask questions, share their minds, and feelings. Encourage them to speak out whenever they are uncomfortable or when other people step over their boundaries.
  •  Body Ownership: Teach them that they have control over their bodies, and it is okay to say no to physical touches they are not comfortable with, even with family or friends.
  • Respect Their Decision: Respect (even though you may not agree with them all) the decisions and choices of your child, no matter what they are or aren’t. This demonstrates to them that their opinion and boundaries are respected and validated.

As parents or guardians, it is our responsibility to communicate the knowledge and skills that our kids need to navigate relationships in a confident and respectful way. With early teaching on boundaries and consent, we empower them to build healthy and fulfilling relationships as they navigate their way from childhood to teenagers. 

 Sources

  Planned Parenthood – Consent

 Amaze.org: Offers age-appropriate videos and resources to help parents and educators talk to children and teens about consent, boundaries, and healthy relationships.