Last week we talked about consent, and I shared with you the OMEGAS of consent—a useful tool for talking to your tween or teen and helping them understand exactly what consent means.
But what if you have younger kiddos? There are some fantastic new(er) resources out there you might find useful!
Below are three books that will help YOU get the consent conversation started with your kiddos as young as age 2.
First up: C is for Consent by Eleanor Morrison
This little board book has been out for a few years now and is a fantastic place to start. It has simple, colorful pictures of different family members and is great at helping young children understand that they don’t have to hug or kiss anyone they don’t want to, while also providing them with some fantastic alternatives. This is a perfect starter book for toddlers and up—short, easy to understand, and simple.
Next Up: Don’t Hug Doug (He Doesn’t Like It) by Carrie Finison
This came out just this year (2021) and when the author asked if she could send me a copy to review, I was excited but cautious. Having now read the book, I can enthusiastically endorse this one! The book is all about a little boy named Doug who doesn’t like hugs. The pictures are super fun, the book is full of humor, and I love that it includes both male and female characters and numerous kiddos of color. It starts out “You can hug a pug. (Awww!) You can hug a bug. (Maybe…) Or a slug. (Ewww!) But don’t hug Doug. He doesn’t like it!” and it goes on from there. It’s charming, easy for young kids to understand, funny, and engaging. This is, in my opinion, a “must have” in every child’s at-home library.
And finally: Consent (For Kids!): Boundaries, Respect and Being in Charge of You by Rachel Brian
If you have ever seen the Tea and Consent video (worth a watch!), the creator of that
came out with a book last year to follow-up with a resource for kids. It’s done in the same cartoony style and is easy to understand, engaging, and appropriate for about ages 7-12, and even beyond. Like the video linked above, the author puts consent into really relatable scenarios—and a few funny ones—that make it easy to talk about consent, even for kids who might be resistant to talking about relationships.
I recommend this one almost whole-heartedly, with one caveat: on page 20 of the book, the author states “If a person doesn’t respect your boundary or pressures you to change your mind, it’s important to tell a trusted friend or a helpful adult.” While I appreciate that she is trying to give kids options, it is a mistake to tell kids that if they are being hurt they should talk to a trusted friend. After all, what is another 7-year-old or 10-year-old going to do to help them? That child can’t help on their own, and they may not know that now they now need to tell a trusted adult. This could leave the child whose boundaries have been crossed feeling like it’s not worth telling again because they weren’t helped the first time. The recommendation should only be to tell a helpful/trusted adult.
Consent--what it means, how to ask for it, how to give it (or not give it), and what to do if someone ignores your lack of consent--is a critical conversation for parents, grandparents, and other caregivers to have with kids early and often. Books make this conversation, like conversations about sex, easier, and the books above are great place to start. Good luck, and as always--reach out if you need support along the way!