Lolo Cynthia is an activist and UNHCR influencer who recently wrote a very in-depth list of ways to teach kids about consent without getting into inappropriate territory. Her viral Twitter thread ended up getting quite a lot of attention and for good reason, it’s brilliant.
Consent can be an uncomfortable discussion to have with your kids, especially in a world where even adults seem to know very little about boundaries. However, when you look at a world where it’s become increasingly clear just how important boundaries are, it goes without saying that this is something kids need to be informed about. I really felt like what Lolo has to say is informative and, at the very least, discussion worthy.
Here are the 7 ways to teach kids consent without mentioning sex.
1. Teach them to say no.
While it may seem insignificant, she says, the impact of teaching kids to say no can go a long way. She cites situations like in African cultures where kids aren’t allowed to be assertive or disagree with an adult, because it’s seen as disrespectful.
2. Respect their no.
When they say no, respect it. “Nothing is more confusing to a child than when you teach them to say no but don’t respect their decisions when they do.”
3. Teach them to ask for permission.
Conversely, teach them to ask for permission before touching other people. Even if the person is family or someone close, she asserts that it is helpful to encourage them to ask. This shows them what consent means from all angles.
4. Have a strong male in their life.
“In our society, it can be very easy for young boys to think and view others as objects meant to fulfill their own needs. 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 to become more sensitive and respectful of others,” she says.
5. Teach them not to move people with their hands.
She explains that the best way to teach this is to model it. “I notice that rarely do we do this with people that 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.”
6. Teach them not to give out other people’s information without permission.
Before giving out information, children should be taught to ask for the person’s permission out of respect for their privacy. “No matter how close they are to the person, it shows respect for their privacy.”
7. Make every moment a teachable moment.
Last but not least, she says, that every moment can be a teachable moment. Another thing she says that I felt was really impactful is to think of everything you heard as a child from people you trusted that made you feel bad. “So imagine if those remarks were healthy and positive comments,” she concludes.