Your Consent. My Consent. And Tickle Consent.
There is a new wave of teaching kids about consent.
And don't get me wrong... that's a good thing.
With 4 boys under our roof, I want to make sure I do my part to ensure they won't rape, assault, or molest anybody.
But more than that, I don't want them to be silent bystanders or witnesses. I want them to be vocal outspoken allies, and loud bearers of human decency.
I want them to decry their peers commenting crudely about other people's looks, who they would “do” or the myriad of other “locker room” talk that is nothing more than misogeny.
But I digress.
My kid went to a preschool where consent was THE theme of the school.
They really wanted to make sure he understood, he is in charge of his body. And adults may not touch him without consent. And his peers cannot touch him without consent.
And again, don't get me wrong... I think that's a crucial part of giving our kids the tools to stand up for themselves, and not quietly accept abuse (sexual or otherwise).
But I think it would be better taught in the context of “you need consent before you touch someone else.”
That seems like a much better tack to reduce hitting, hair pulling, grabbing, tugging, and even spitting on.
And from it you can grow a sense of your own bodily autonomy.
As it stands, our kid learned to tell us “you can't touch me... I don't consent” as we try to hold his hand to cross the street.
And yet he has no problem climbing on us, or slapping his siblings on the back as he tears around the dinner table.
And while we're at it...
Tickling is the perfet platform to demonstrate and practice consent.
It is a fun playful interaction, that quickly turns from YES PLEASE to NO THANK YOU.
If you use it as an opportunity to model how to treat other people's bodies.
If you are tickling them to the point to the point that they can't talk, and you keep on going... What are you teaching them?
If you tickle them to that point and then STOP and ask “would you like me to stop or keep going?” You're modeling a much better way to handle touch and consent.
And giving them a sense of bodily control and autonomy.
Showing them how they should treat other people, while teaching them that they have the ability to decide how they want to be touched.
Winners all around.