We've once discussed the many ways parents teach and ensure a child's safety. We've also previously talked about how even sharing about your children online can threaten their safety. Today, we'll dissect how the notion of 'consent' plays role in our children's safety and what we can do as modern parents. The Age of Consent Consent is often legally linked to sexual consent. But by definition, it simply means the act of giving permission or agreement to something you are asked to do. Statistics show that at least one in ten children might find themselves in harassment situations without parents around. This is why parents today find themselves in heated discussions about where and when exactly should they start talking about consent with their little ones. Because the legal age of consent is generally the age of 16, it falls onto parents to teach their children as early as possible how and why their consent matters. And with young children, parents don't need to make it about the birds and the bees! 10 Everyday Ways To Introduce the Concept of Consent to Your Children It might sound silly to some having to ask your child if you could hold their hand when you're their parent. The crux of this discussion though essentially spotlights one important lesson: children have an inherent right to self-autonomy and it's the parents' responsibility to teach them how to wield it like a superpower! Without further ado, let's explore how parents can begin instilling the concept of consent into their children's everyday life. #1 Normalise Talking About Feelings Image credit: Canva The earlier you have these talks with your young children, the wider the groundwork you're laying for open and honest conversations with them when they are older. Create a nurturing learning atmosphere for them first, before imparting any lesson at all! And given that 'consent' is not a lesson learnt overnight, you'll need to establish a healthy, communicative relationship with them beforehand and along the way. #2 Talk About Feeling 'Safe' and 'Unsafe' Image credit: Canva It's important your little one understands it's okay to speak up when they feel uncomfortable (or worse, if threatened). Explain to them how feelings of safety and unsafe can manifest. Have them talk to you about what makes them feel safe, and always keep aware of times they might feel otherwise. Identify with them 'safe adults' who are in their lives, whom they can turn to anytime to share any concerns at all. They can be parents, grandparents, godparents or close aunts and uncles. #3 Teach Them to Ask For Consent Image credit: Canva When it comes to talking to children about consent, it doesn't have to only be about the bird and the bees. You can save that for their teenhood instead! With young children and toddlers, the focus should be on teaching them why giving and getting permission is important. One of the best ways to begin is by teaching them to ask for permission when doing certain things. These include knocking before entering a room, wanting to play with a sibling's toy, or even when they are about to touch another child. #4 Ask For Their Consent Too Image credit: Canva We know just how important consistency is when teaching children something new. One simple way parents can be consistent with their lessons on consent is to simply ask for their consent too, as often as you can. Ask them before your post their pictures online. If you find yourself reassuring them after a tantrum or meltdown, ask if they would like a hug or how they'd like you to help them. Ask what they feel like eating that day or let them decide on their daily wear. Children learn best when they see for themselves how actions and behaviours are modelled before them. With us parents usually being their first teachers, it's all the more vital for us to walk the talk! #5 Practice 'No Means No' Image credit: Canva Saying 'no' to your child once in a while sets a clear boundary for them not to cross as there will be consequences. It establishes a parent's authority and when practised appropriately, it teaches your child you love them. Similarly, you need to show them the same regard for when they say 'no' too. Your children need to believe their requests and words carry the same weight. Stop tickling them if they request you to do so. If they refuse to hug a relative, offer an alternative 'high-5' instead or perhaps a shake of the hand. They need to learn from a young age that they are not invisible, they are heard and can make a difference\u2014no matter how small. #6 Teach Them Non-Verbal Consent Cues Image credit: Canva Non-verbal consent cues are ways to express your consent without using words. They are through actions such as a thumb's up, a nod of the head, a slump in shoulders, a shrug or a certain change in body language. Draw your child's attention to everyday instances of these actions. A smile doesn't always mean 'Yes' and someone can still mean a firm 'No' while smiling. The idea is to help them understand what others are feeling through their body language and how their body can have the same tendencies too. #7 Show Them How 'Yes' Can Mean 'No' Image credit: Canva Let them change their minds over little things like their daily outfits, or meals. It brings them to the next important lesson: yes can also mean no (or later, mean no). It's so that if they ever find themselves in a situation where they have a change of mind or heart, they know they can very well change it\u2014and so can others. It empowers their self-confidence and critical thinking too. That when it comes to many important lessons in life, it's okay to change your mind especially when it's for your own good\u2014and when your gut tells you to! #8 Practice Hand In Hand Parenting Image credit: Canva Kate Orson is a Hand In Hand parenting instructor who advocates how this technique can very well save a lot of your time with the kids. And it's all about listening to them and allowing them to make their own choices. Orson believes this builds a parent-child connection that breeds cooperation. Adopting hand in hand parenting techniques with your children can help them practice and model consent. You can do so by playlistening and letting them take charge during a specially allocated time or in everyday instances. These may include meal prepping and picking out their daily outfits. #9 Teach Them About Body Boundaries Image credit: Canva \u201cThe younger the child, the more a parent or carer needs to physically touch a child in order to care for them \u2013 but there are many opportunities to frame these actions into consent-nurturing interactions,\u201d -Dr. Melissa Kang,\u00a0The Guardian Caring for these little ones is a naturally physical experience but parents can easily take advantage of that to teach them about crucial body safety rules and the three types of touches (safe, unsafe and unwanted). It can be during bathtime or even in the middle of a tickle fight\u2014find ways to slip in these important facts when it's most relevant to them. #10 Notice Their Discomfort Image credit: Canva Noticing when your child is uncomfortable paves a way for you to practice hand in hand parenting. This is where you get to ask them 'What's wrong?' and 'How can I help you feel better?' And those are important openings for every child to speak about what bothers them and how to help them. It teaches empathy while safeguarding their right to body and personal boundaries. Say Yes To Consent Ultimately, the prize-winning reason for parents today to teach their young children and toddlers about consent is to shield them from bullies and predators. It's never too early to teach your little ones just how firm their voices can and should be. It may be more so for times to come, especially if you're not be around then. But it will be your voice in their head that will help them summon the courage for a resounding, "NO! This is NOT right!" You've got this, parents! Disclaimer: The information provided in this article is for informational purposes only and should not be considered as medical advice from Motherhood. For any health-related concerns, it is advisable to consult with a qualified healthcare professional or medical practitioner. For more insightful stories and fun recipes, stay tuned to Motherhood Story!