Monday, August 27, 2018

The Language of Consent

Consent. It's a small word but has such a big meaning in our classroom and has a huge role to play in our every day interactions. Cohort 13 as a whole is so close to each other and love spending time together.


Some peers really enjoy being close to one another constantly while others feel more comfortable with some space. Since each child desires different levels of closeness and touch, it is my role to act as a moderating presence in the classroom so that when potential conflict arises between peers I can demonstrate to everyone how to use words and body language to communicate their feelings. This is where the language of consent is used as a tool to give each person power and choice over what happens to their body.


Hugs are a great way peers show affection and comfort to each other but just as every child is different and unique, each child has a different personality and interest in showing affection through hugging and touch.

A frequent scene in the classroom involves giving and receiving hugs. Our group as a whole loves giving each other hugs. Some children love to hug others frequently, anytime they see their friend they desire to show affection through hugging.


Some peers like to receive hugs while others only like hugs when they’re in an affectionate mood. But when they’re occupied with an activity, especially when a child is playing and really focusing on something, a hug isn’t always a welcomed gesture, especially when it is placed upon the child without their consent.

Everyday we talk about seeing if a hug works first before proceeding with it. This looks like approaching each other slowly with open arms and pausing to see if another child will also open their arms to show they would like a hug or it can also mean simply asking another child for a hug and waiting for their response which could be “no”,“space” or an outstretched arm to signify the need for space.


We talk frequently about respecting each other's bodies by giving them space. Which can look like sitting next to a friend but not so close that the other friend feels uncomfortable with how close the peer is. We talk about how we can tell how peers feel about something through their body language. If a child pulls away when another child is trying to show them a toy or get them to play with the toy, we talk about how the child isn’t interested in playing with the toy through their body language.

There is so much to learn about each other, our feelings and how to interact with one another in a way that values consent, body autonomy and respect. What important work it is to model this every day so every child can see and duplicate this in their every day world!

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