February 03, 2021

Dr. Curry talks to Today about teaching kids body autonomy and consent

Feb. 2, 2021, 1:43 PM PST / Source: TODAYBy Kait Hanson

It’s never too early to teach kids about boundaries — but where should you start?

Dr. Shannon Curry, a clinical psychologist and director of the Curry Psychology Group in Orange County, California, stressed the importance of a parent’s role as being the most influential and trusted authority in a child’s life.

“By teaching your child about body autonomy and consent, they learn that their body is their own, that they can make choices about what happens to their body, and that they alone determine what is comfortable or uncomfortable for them,” Curry told TODAY Parents.

Katey Howes, author of the children’s book “Rissy No Kissies,”added that kids are never too young to learn about autonomy, boundaries and consent.

“Finding the tools to teach them isn’t always easy,” Howes told TODAY Parents. “I wrote ‘Rissy No Kissies’ to help kids and caregivers see that we all give and receive affection in our own ways, whether that’s hugs or high-fives, cards or kisses. When kids can recognize and communicate boundaries, they grow up with healthy relationships built on respect for their own bodies and feelings — and for the bodies and feelings of others.”

“Don’t Hug Doug (He Doesn’t Like It)” author Carrie Finison said she hopes her book on consent helps both adults and children start a conversation that might not happen otherwise.

“Relationships work better when both parties are comfortable and feel respected,” Finison said. “I want ‘Don’t Hug Doug’ to help kids and adults to practice both asking for consent, and answering the question of whether they want a hug, so that they get comfortable having that conversation — first in the context of the story, and later in the context of their own lives.”

Ready to have the conversation? We found five more titles that will help introduce kids to the important concept of consent:

“C is For Consent” by Eleanor Morrison

This board book follows a little boy to a get-together where he determines what types of physical interactions he will have with friends and relatives. Morrison helps both children and parents see how to foster healthy boundaries.

“Don’t Touch My Hair!” by Sharee Miller

Permission is the theme of this entertaining picture book that follows Aria through the jungle, under water and even into outer space. Miller uses her female character to showcase the overlap between curiosity and consent.

“Miles Is the Boss of His Body” by Samantha Kurtzman-Counter and Abbie Schiller

At Miles’ birthday party, he is the recipient of more affection than he wants or appreciates from various family members. He announces he is the boss of his own body and receives support from his family, providing a healthy example of actions and reactions for both children and parents.

“My Body! What I Say Goes!” by Jayneen Sanders

Personal body safety is taught through age-appropriate illustrations covering feelings, secrets, respectful relationships and safe vs. unsafe touch. Recommended for ages 3 through 10, Sanders’ book can be used as children grow.

“Personal Space Camp” by Julia Cook

Space-obsessed Louis thinks he’s going to learn about the solar system when he gets called to the principal’s office for “Personal Space Camp.” He quickly learns that physical boundaries, not moon landings, are on the agenda. Humor guides kids on how to communicate personal space needs in this personal library must-have.