The other day, I was trying to get my crew of misfits dressed and out of the house. We had somewhere to be, and as is always the case when you’re running on borrowed time, both of my kids turned into slugs. I hurried my youngest into her room to get her ready, and started pulling off her shirt. My darling little 4-year-old pulled away from me, squared off, and yelled, “YOU DIDN’T ASK PERMISSION, MAMA, MY BODY MY RULES!” It took every single ounce of my self-control not to laugh, you guys. But I didn’t! Instead I told her that she was correct, and I apologized and asked her permission. And as we were leaving the house, I mentally patted myself on the back. All that talk about consent was working! She got it! Could NOT have been at a more inopportune time, but I’ll take it.
Teaching our young kids about consent is one of the most important things we can do as parents. It’s part of the foundation of sex-positive parenting, and it’s vital to teaching our kids body safety. These lessons start very early (as evidenced by my 4-year-old’s assertion), and should be part of an on-going discussion as kids get older. But it can be tricky to get a toddler to understand the rules of consent. Luckily, there are plenty of resources out there for parents, like these amazing kids’ books on the subject.
Kids’ books about consent help make a potentially difficult concept easier to understand for little minds. For toddlers and younger school-aged kids, it’s about body boundaries and giving them the confidence to feel empowered when it comes to their bodies.
No Means No! by Jayneen Sanders is a picture book written for children 3- 9 years old. It teaches kids about personal boundaries, body boundaries, and how to feel strong and empowered enough to make their own choices at they relate to their own bodies.
Some kids’ books about consent help kids learn how to handle problematic situations.
I Said No! A Kid-to-kid Guide to Keeping Private Parts Private by Kimberly King and Zack King helps kids set healthy boundaries when it comes to their private parts. It was written by Kimberly King and her son Zack, to help Zack cope with a real-life situation with a friend.
Kids’ books about consent can also tackle topics like good secrets and bad secrets.
Keeping secrets can be fun, like when you have a surprise for a loved one. But secrets can also be harmful. Do You Have a Secret? by Jennifer Moore-Mallinos helps kids distinguish between good secrets and bad secrets. It also empowers kids to communicate effectively with parents or another trusted adult.
If you’re not sure where to even start, start at the beginning.
C is for Consent by Eleanor Morrison teaches consent in the simplest terms for kids: by encouraging them to make their own choices about giving and receiving physical affection. It’s a sturdy board book, so it’s perfect for even the youngest kiddos.
Their body, their choice!
My Body! What I Say Goes! by Jayneen Sanders teaches kids the skills they need to feel empowered enough to use their voices to set and enforce their own personal boundaries. (FYI, we have this one at home, hence my youngest’s MY BODY anthem.)
Some books teach kids about consent in roundabout ways.
In Personal Space Camp by Julia Cook, Louis is a self-described “space expert” who knows all about the universe and cosmos, but realizes that he has a lot to learn about personal space.
Teaching kids about consent means giving them the power to decide for themselves whether or not they want to give or receive physical affection.
One of the first things we should be teaching our kids is that it is OK for them to decline a hug or a kiss, even if it’s from a relative or friend. Your Body Belongs to You by Cornelia Spelman puts this in very simple terms that they can understand.
If you’re wondering how to teach your younger kids about consent, these books are a great starting point!
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