Why should parents of toddlers care about consent?

Alison SmithParenting


Not a pleasant post to read, but important to determine your stance on it and to know other ways to protect your kids. Predators are not often the hooded figure lurking in the bushes with lollipops and promises of puppies. Most of them are known to us and trusted by us and our kids see us trusting them.

In our family, from infancy, we have always asked our children’s permission to tickle. We have been diligent in teaching our kids to say no if they don’t like it or when it stops being fun and we also to insist that someone stop if they are the ones tickling and the receiver says no. We check in with our kids during tickling or roughhousing by saying, “Do you want more?” or “Is everyone still having fun?”

What about visitors in your home, like grandparents? You’re confident that they are well-intentioned but what message does it send to our children when the touch is uninvited and we say nothing? In our home, we model what we expect of guests by the language we use. Our children’s autonomy always comes before guests’ feelings. We address our kids directly, rather than the guest and the message is clear. We ask, “Do you want to be tickled?” It’s pretty hard for a visitor to continue after a child says no. If it’s necessary, we will invite our child to sit with us for awhile.

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Alison SmithWhy should parents of toddlers care about consent?