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Teaching consent and respectful relationships starts at a young age

Mar 26, 2021 | Respect

“I think it would be great to see a united version of consent education from as early as possible and as inclusive as possible right the way through.” – Sharna Bremner, End Rape on Campus founder and director, ABC News Online 29/02/2020 

Young children are sponges that learn about the world through their observation of and interactions with their parents, adults, and other children. Therefore, it is essential for early childhood educators to teach and role model positive behavioursrespectful relationships and consent for these little sponges and the children who might not have the same supportive learning environments at home. 

At Wonderschool, we teach children about respect, boundaries and most importantly, consent. We use some of the following approaches in our centres that help children deal with these areas, including emotion coaching, feeling valued, coaching through disagreements and role modelling positive practices. 

How do we teach consent and boundaries at Wonderschool? 

During the day, our Educators try to communicate with children as much as possible. Even from a very young age, besides helping develop their language skills, talking to children helps build connection and trust. It is important for children to express their responses and essential for our Educators to listen and respect those responses. 

We ask for consent:  

  • Can I change your nappy? 
  • I can see you are upset, would you like a cuddle? 
  • May I help wipe your nose? 
  • “Would you like me to help you change into clothes?” 

We demonstrate consent and respectful relationships: 

  • “Jack, you just hit Emily with a block. Emily, you can say, Don’t hit me, Jack, that hurts my body.’” 
  • I understand that you are upset because daddy left for work. I am here for you when you need me. 

At home, these examples and more can be replicated to help teach your children about consent and respectful relationshipsAbove are very simple yet effective steps to help create security, teach consent and respect and help develop meaningful, trusting relationships at an early age.