Teaching children about consent can start early. You can teach children to ask before hugging or touching their friends. And avoid forcing your children to hug and kiss you or others.
Help create empathy within your child by explaining how something they have done may have hurt someone. Encourage your child to imagine how he or she might feel if someone had hit them, instead. This can be done with a loving tone and a big hug, so the child doesn’t feel ashamed or embarrassed.
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. No matter what.”
Never force a child to hug, touch or kiss anybody, for any reason. If Grandma is demanding a kiss, and your child is resistant, offer alternatives by saying something like, “Would you rather give Grandma a high-five or blow her a kiss, maybe?” You can always explain to Grandma, later, what you’re doing and why.
Allow children to talk about their body in any way they want, without shame. Teach them the correct words for their genitals, and make a safe place for talking about bodies and sex.