Consent & Rivalries

Implementing the concept of consent & boundaries can really shift things around when facing rivalries between kids.

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I love the topic of consent! I’ve been very intentional in the last 2 years to continue to talk to my kids about consent. I grew up in an environment without consent so I know how important it is. We had a situation just come up with my husbands parents. My kids see them every week. One of my twins (5 years old), never wants to hug grandpa. Whenever I am there and he says he doesn’t want to hug him, I say, that’s totally fine, do you want to wave or just say goodbye instead. Well my 10 year old came to me and explained that he felt really uncomfortable with something that happened with that twin and the grandparents. He overheard grandma telling my 5 year old that he had to give grandpa a hug. My 5 year old refused and she told him again that he had to. Then she continued on and explained that he would make grandpa sad if he didn’t give him a hug. Ugh! So of course my twin gave him a hug. My 10 year old wasn’t comfortable jumping in and standing up for the 5 year old which I understand. Our plan is to talk to my in laws about this situation. Is there anything else I need to do? I did follow up with my 5 year old and asked him about it. He explained that he gave grandpa a hug bc grandma says he has to. So I just reminded him about consent and he’s the boss of his body and that he can tell that to them next time they try to make him give a hug that he doesn’t want to give. Anything else I need to do to help with this issue that happened?

Also- my parents are kind of the opposite. They don’t really know about consent in family scenarios and they don’t ask my kids. They do it in a playful way and my dad will chase the kids and tickle them and make them laugh and give them hugs. I’m not really sure how I’m supposed to approach that either. Any tips would be great! Thanks!

Sterna Suissa (Administrator) May 23, 2023 at 8:12 PM

I love how you navigated that situation. Sometimes through messy situations like that, children learn the most. They see what’s not okay and what is okay. Your child is aware and can notice when someone is crossing another person’s boundary and this is great…even tho the situation doesn’t feel that great! What do you think about telling inlaw-grandparents: “we need your help in keeping our children safe. We want you to help us out with consent. Consent is when…” basically asking them to be your ally in creating a respectful environment. Do you think they would be open to this? Wold this be a productive conversation?

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