When you teach your children age appropriate boundaries, they will be able to set healthy body boundaries, feel empowered to say no, and be able to navigate a world that often does not set them up for success. They will also know what to do in situations that take them out of their comfort zone.
Here are seven ways to discuss body boundaries.
A body boundary can be defined as an invisible and personal set of rules defining what a good or bad touch is. It also defines the amount of touching that the kid is comfortable with. The moment they have defined their boundaries, they become more aware of their rights and how they deserve to be treated by others.
1. Educate them about Their Right Over Their Body
Try to always let your children know that they have control of their bodies (not in a bossy way) and how they interact with others. Also, ensure that they know how others interact with them is within their control. Through repeated interactions between you and your baby, they will be learning what to expect from others. You can start showing them what to expect by being intentional about how you handle their bodies.
2. Create a Culture of Consent
Before you reach out to hug your child, try and ask them for permission. Communicating consent to your young child by letting them know what you are doing and why you are doing it before touching is essential.
This reinforces the concept that communication before the touch is essential. It also gives the idea that they have to consent before they are attached, which is very important.
3. Don’t Be Shy to Talk about Body Anatomy
When discussing age appropriate boundaries, kids should know why a specific part of their body is private. Some parents come with acute phrases when referring to genitalia.
They tend to come with alternative words for children to avoid saying words like penis or vagina. This, however, sends the message that some of their body parts are shameful.
Sometimes, you find that kids who are not taught to talk about their bodies may feel less comfortable when it comes to reporting when they have been sexually violated.
You can speak to your kids about their bodies healthily and inclusively of the gender spectrum. It, however, calls for you to ensure that your child is aware of their body parts without having to feel shameful about it. So, use your discretion to explain the body in a way they will understand.
Though it can be an embarrassing moment for you as a parent, answer truthfully so that they know what’s okay and what is not to touch. It also educates them about their body parts and the general anatomy.
4. Talk About Consent Outside the Context of Sex
In most cases, the word consent is only brought up in sexual contexts. However, you can use consent in everyday conversations to help you frame any permission-seeking activity. For example, you can teach your kids to ask for consent before borrowing other people’s items or posting pictures online.
This will make them understand the importance of consent, especially before touching other people. When they learn about this consent, they will not have problems, especially with body boundaries.
5. Make Giving Affection Voluntary
We live in a society where most people expect children to obey adult authority blindly. There can be an expectation to give affection.
Speak to your child to resist forced affection. This will help them not to accept un- wanted touch, especially in being polite.
If a child gets to understand that their ‘no’ is respected, they will automatically be- gin to understand it as wrong if it is not respected. Therefore, don’t force hugs, kisses, or caresses even with relatives.
If your child, for instance, does not want to hug during greetings or even when saying goodbyes, make them know that it is okay. They can wave, high-five, or even state salutations and help them build confidence knowing that it is not wrong.
6. Make Comments on Wrong Messages from Media
Children are constantly exposed to media where jokes, comments, and legal cases about consent may not be right.
If, for instance, you are watching television with your child and the issue of consent and body boundaries has been wrong, you need to speak up about it.
Society in the media often teaches children how to act, dress, or even speak, but if they don’t get it right, be sure to criticize it openly so as to learn what is right.
Try to counteract the messages by reinforcing that anytime someone is harmed, it is not their fault regardless of what they wear.
You can also introduce your children to age-appropriate videos and media that teach consent and respect boundaries.
Keeping the conversation going throughout their development is essential in ensuring that they get to learn the importance of consent and having good body boundaries.
7. Advocate for Others’ Space Too
You should help your kids respect other people’s body boundaries. For example, you should let them understand that everyone gets to decide whether or not they want to be touched.
They need reminders to tune in to nonverbal cues whenever they are dealing with other people. Asking for consent before touching other people is essential, and therefore, they need to practice it by ensuring that they understand that consent goes both ways.
This post was all about age appropriate boundaries.
Teaching your child about body boundaries cannot be underestimated, especially when helping them learn about consent and be confident about their bodies.
Use these tips, especially when having discussions about age appropriate boundaries and consent. You should aim to make sure that your child is confident enough about their bodies and that they respect other people too.
Make a point of having meaningful discussions about consent to help your child have the best sexual development and respect other people as they learn about consent.
If you’d like to connect or follow my journey of motherhood, marriage, and postpartum, connect with me on Instagram to see how I’m applying what we discussed in today’s post on my journey into intentional motherhood.