Thoughtful Parenting: Talking to your child about consent
Teaching our children about consent needs to be an ongoing conversation that evolves as your child grows.
To start, call private parts what they are — penis, vagina, butt. Using different words can make it taboo or confusing if there is a problem.
Talking about touch and consent can initially be intimidating and uncomfortable — take a breath and allow it to be a natural conversation. The most ideal time is when they are already naked, like in the bath.
Start by identifying the body parts you are washing and later, evolve into naming a body part and have them point to it on their body, including privates. This teaches them about their body and empowers them to talk about it.
Also, discuss some parts are private, which is why we wear bathing suits. Identify exceptions like, it is okay to be naked around other people when changing in the locker room, but we still respect each other’s space.
Sometimes, these conversations happen in public spaces, which can be uncomfortable for us as the adult, but it creates the foundation that they can discuss it openly and know they won’t get into trouble by talking about bodies and touch.
Another exception is, touch of your penis/vagina/butt are okay, if it is to help you stay clean or to check you are healthy (like by a caregiver or doctor). It is not okay if someone touches your body and says don’t tell, even if it is a friend. Identify trusted adults in their life they can talk to about things if someone says it is a “secret.”
It is also important to empower your child’s choices with their body. “No hug good night,” although heartbreaking, should be respected. Don’t force hugs to family if your child doesn’t want to. Offer an alternative using words or a fist-bump as a hello/goodbye exchange.
What: Eat, Chat, Parent
When: 5:30 p.m. April 11
Where: Steamboat Springs High School, 45 Maple St.
“No” can’t inhibit safety or health though. We have to wipe our butts after we poop and wear boots in the snow. Create boundaries with your body as well. When you say no, your child needs to respect that back. Consent needs to be given and respected.
You are providing your child with the confidence to stand up for their own body and respect each other’s. You got this!
To learn about how to talk to your teen or preteen about consent, come Eat, Chat, Parent at 5:30 p.m. April 11 at Steamboat Springs High School, 45 Maple St.
Patty Oakland BSN, RN, FNE is the social change advocate at Advocates of Routt County, focusing on prevention services of sexual and intimate partner violence for Routt County. She is a registered nurse and forensic nurse examiner with a bachelor’s degree in nursing and critical thought and inquiry. She is currently working on her master’s degree in forensic nursing.
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