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CONSENT & PLEASURE
Teaching your child the importance of knowing what you like and being able to tell others what you want
What is consent?
"Permission for something to happen or agreement to do something" – and beyond that…
Consent is an agreement
Consent is a value, a code of conduct around trust & empathy
It’s about respecting someone else & about self-respect
Consent is a way to create connection
Consent requires self-knowledge around what gives you pleasure and what doesn’t
- Consent requires self-confidence: asserting your needs, advocating for your desires & standing up for yourself
Expressing enthusiastic consent gives people greater self-respect & self-knowledge
Consent can be granted, refused or withdrawn via body language or facial expressions as well as noises or words
Consent can be refused without the word “no”: “I’m not in the mood. Could we just…?” or “I’m not comfortable with that right now…” or “No, but let’s…”
Consent needs to be enthusiastic & ongoing – and it can change along the way
Start safeguarding early. If you make it clear to your child that they have a right to bodily autonomy, to defining their boundaries and personal space, you will have laid the cornerstones of consent. Also important is having your child learn to recognise the difference between safe and unwanted touch
“Teach your kids that ’no’ and ‘stop’ are important words and should be honoured. One way to explain this may be: ‘Sarah said “no”, and when we hear “no” we always stop what we’re doing immediately’”
This Is How You Teach Kids About Consent – The Good Men Project (HuffPost, 2017)
Practise consent by example (ask if you can kiss your child goodnight), give them bodily autonomy (let them choose what to wear), teach them to listen to their bodies and how to handle physical rejection (because everyone is in control of their own body). Above all, believe your child, says the Gottman Institute in Beyond The Talk
Do you know what sexual consent is? It’s actually pretty simple.
“Yes!” is the only word that means yes. “No” means no, as do a lot of other words, and sometimes no words at all.
Remember, consent means that the person you’re with feels safe and wants to do what you’re doing.
If you’re not sure, ask. Even if asking seems awkward, it’s the right thing to do
Campaign to Empower Dads to Teach Their Sons About Consent (White Ribbon, November 2017)
Young children will naturally explore their bodies and what feels good to them physically.
Self-knowledge and curiosity are healthy – so be careful not to project adult shame or worries about sexualisation onto them. Your message: that’s OK but do it in private
Not all young people know that consent can change or be withdrawn at any point, and that it’s also crucial to notice body language.
Teach your child to use and hear sensitive refusals: “I like you but I’m not ready” or “No, not yet…” More from Jennifer Cassaly here
Watch it first, then suggest that your young teen watch Screwball! This award-winning 12-minute video covers consent, sex & the impact of porn in a loving teen relationship. It’s entertaining, funny and relatable
The truth is, we most often have sex for pleasure. So why do parents and teachers prefer to address sex from the angle of risks: pregnancy, STIs and sexual assault? Acknowledging that sex should feel good will help your child stand up for themselves later in life if something feels wrong. Consent and pleasure – knowing what feels good and being able to say what you like – are connected…
We’re a generation of adults who have been deeply impacted by not having awareness and understanding of our bodies and of consent
– sexuality educator Melissa Carnagey, from How to Talk to Your Kids About Consent
When you talk about consent, you’re also talking about pleasure, because for consent you need to know what you want & don’t want.
If young people do not have the words to acknowledge and understand their own desires and the desire of others, they cannot keep themselves safe, establish boundaries or speak up when these boundaries are crossed
– lecturer in criminology & sociology Dr Elsie Whittington
More help with #Consent
Remember: every child is different. Adjust these suggestions for the age and stage of your child. Children with special educational needs and disabilities, looked-after children and children who have experienced abuse may all need different support.
If you’re in doubt about your child’s emotional, physical or psychological development, please seek the advice of a professional