Early years community corner: Teaching children about consent

Saturday, July 2, 2022

On the early years social media community @jayneensandersauthor and @educate2empower shared a post exploring ‘what to do when family members don't respect your child's “no” to hugs and kisses.’ In this article we share this post and some related posts for you to reflect on and include a book which can be used to start the conversation.

@educate2empower posted on Instagram discussing the challenging but important topic of consent and empowering young children to take control of their own bodies. ‘It can be tough at times to speak up, support, and advocate for your child when it comes to them having agency over their own body and expressing to an adult – particularly family – that they don't want to give a kiss or a hug. It is so important that we empower children, so they feel they have power over their bodies. After all, it is their body, and respecting that is crucial.’

This post focused specifically on the expectation that is often placed upon young children that they hug and kiss family members when they see them. The post provides useful advice on how you can explain simply to adults, why it is important to ask children for consent when wanting them to give you or anyone else a hug and kiss rather than it being the expected norm.

In a follow up post, also about consent, @educate2empower reflects on ‘Consent. Words and how you say them matter.’


This post suggests some helpful words and phrases which can be used to convey ‘NO’ and to give consent, these could be used when discussing the topic with young children and modelled by adults during high-quality interactions with children as examples of appropriate language.

The final image from @educate2empower contains further examples of language, this time in the form of four questions which could be used to ask for consent for a range of purposes. As with the previous examples, these should be modelled during your daily interactions with children as this provides the best opportunity for children to understand context to language and for the children to repeat the vocabulary back.

This month's book is from @first_conversations, it is called ‘YES! NO! – A first conversation about consent.’ The book is written with the aim of being suitable for all ages as a way of introducing and scaffolding conversations around consent. There is also helpful support for adults at the back, the advice can be used to ‘continue the conversation’ after reading the book.

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