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Children's Books About Consent and Body Autonomy

  • 1.  Children's Books About Consent and Body Autonomy

    Posted 15 days ago
    Hello!

    With Labor Day weekend this past weekend, my family spent some time with relatives. As we departed my daughter's grandpa asked for a hug, which she didn't feel like she wanted to give at that time. I told her later that it was okay for her not to hug someone that she didn't feel like, and I wanted to make sure she understood she is in control of her body.

    I got to thinking about children in our programs and how we are teaching body autonomy...I have one teacher who has picked up on a body autonomy issue and is working to quell it in her preschool classroom; we have several girls who wear those shirts with sequins shirts that flip over to make another design when touched or rubbed. Does anyone know what shirts I mean? Children and adults love to touch and flip these shirts (my 6 year old daughter has several), but the children wearing them don't necessarily want to be touched like that. I had never thought of this regarding consent before my preschool teacher had brought this up. She now has actively taught the children in her room to ask first, and if the child says no, they may not touch her.

    Anyway...to my question: does anyone have any good recommendations on children's books regarding consent/body autonomy? I would love to purchase a couple for myself and my program.

    Thank you in advance!

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    Kristin Nelson
    Child Development Center Director
    Jeremiah Program
    Fargo ND
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  • 2.  RE: Children's Books About Consent and Body Autonomy

    Posted 15 days ago
    This is such an important topic! As a resource for consent workshops I do, I keep a running list of consent-focused children's books at Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/128565.Children_s_Books_About_Consent

    My personal favorites are Miles is the Boss of His Body and C is for Consent, because they're both in a story format, but show how consent works even in safe/family relationships.



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    Lydia Bowers
    Early Childhood Sexual Health Consultant
    www.lydiambowers.com
    NAEYC Affiliate Advisory Council
    Cincinnati, Ohio
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  • 3.  RE: Children's Books About Consent and Body Autonomy

    Posted 15 days ago
    Yes, I know those sequined shirts. Totally designed by somebody who thinks that everybody rubbing a little girl across the chest is good marketing. Sigh. It's not okay!

    But they are here, so it's a Teachable Moment. Have a discussion, or make the shirt your Question Of The Day:

    "What can you do when you want to touch the sparkly heart on ABC's shirt?"

    Let them role play how to ask, giving reminders about "Her body belongs to HERSELF."  I have also used a Morning Circle song for greeting each other each day, practicing consent. When I sang the special song, children stood up (as able and if desired) to walk around and ask for / offer hugs and fist bumps etc. I was hard-line on interjecting if someone persisted on hugging anyone who had said "No thank you." And that class carried the concept throughout the day. Why wait for a book? Teach it! Celebrate it! Make your OWN consent book 👍🏼.


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    Mars April Caulton
    Teacher & Teaching Artist
    Chicago IL
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  • 4.  RE: Children's Books About Consent and Body Autonomy

    Posted 14 days ago
    I love this thread!  Thank you for bringing it up and thank you to all for resources.  Early Childhood professionals (and parents) are really teaching Sex Ed 101 from infancy on.  When we teach children about any kind of boundaries--from specifically body-oriented ones as you describe to asking if they can join in play to telling a child to stop pushing them--we are teaching about respect for others and ourselves, using one's voice, and consent.  This is one reason why I counsel teachers to use clear and direct language and to teach children to use clear and direct language.  "Don't push me please."  "Sarai, Joseph is asking you to stop, so please take your hand off the truck."  Much better modeling for children than the ubiquitous and meaningless "No, thank you!"  Children need practice in clearly saying what they want and don't want and children need to practice responding when others are direct with them.  Self-regulation and consent go hand in hand.

    And no child (or adult) should have to hug or be hugged by anyone unless they want that.  Great that your daughter spoke up and that you gave her such good support.

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    Aren Stone
    Child Development Specialist
    The Early Years Project
    Cambridge, MA
    she/her
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  • 5.  RE: Children's Books About Consent and Body Autonomy

    Posted 12 days ago
    Bravo Aren, Lydia, Mars and Kristin!
    It's so important we explicitly teach children to be their own advocates and to respect other children's boundaries. This also means that teachers have to be very conscious of the times they take over a child's body which happens a lot in infant and toddler programs. We need to ask and to explain what we are doing "I'm going to pick you up and put you on the changing table...", and go slow, slow, slow so the little one can let us know they understand and consent.
    This whole thread has been wonderful, how about you all get together and present a workshop at PLI in June and at national in November!!

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    [Julie] [Olsen Edwards]
    Soquel CA
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  • 6.  RE: Children's Books About Consent and Body Autonomy

    Posted 12 days ago
    I present consent workshops semi-regularly - it's one of my favorite subjects! Some of my colleagues and I presented at this last PLI, and will be presenting again at this upcoming Annual Conference on "Supporting young children's agency: Consent and respect with infants and toddlers." So if you'll be in Nashville, come check it out!

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    Lydia Bowers
    Early Childhood Sexual Health Consultant
    www.lydiambowers.com
    NAEYC Affiliate Advisory Council
    Cincinnati, Ohio
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  • 7.  RE: Children's Books About Consent and Body Autonomy

    Posted 11 days ago
    Thank you, Aren, for bringing up the No Thank You.  It is a phrase I have strings feelings about   I want children to trust their gut feeling about someone's intentions. So if someone kindly offers you a toy you don't want, No Thank You is appropriate. However, too many teachers tell preschoolers to tell a bullying, pushing child those same words -- and that is a terrible thing to teach. No one should ever even remotely need to thank anyone for hurting them in any way.

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    Mars April Caulton
    Education Coordinator,
    Mary Crane Centers
    Chicago IL
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