How can I talk to my kids about consent?’

University of Leeds
2 min readFeb 23, 2024

‘How can I talk to my 10-year-old about consent in a way that he’ll understand?’

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Consent is an important part of all healthy relationships in our lives and matters to everybody — not just adults. Talking to children about consent might feel nerve-wracking or uncomfortable at first, but there are lots of opportunities to have conversations in a way that they will understand.

Two small toy figures shaking hands.
Photo by Pawel Czerwinski on Unsplash

Consent is all about setting and respecting boundaries; giving someone a choice about a physical interaction and not pressuring them to change their answer. At this age, we can lay the foundation for making decisions about their bodies, asking for permission, and responding appropriately when someone says no to them.

Here’s how you can incorporate consent into everyday conversations with a child:

Ways to ask your child for consent:

“Do you want a hug goodbye today? We could also wave or high five.”

“Can I sit next to you?”

Ways to demonstrate consent:

“Do you need a break from tickling?” “Are tickles still okay with you?”

“It’s okay if you don’t want a cuddle.”

Examples that a child might use with other children:

“Can I sit next to you at lunch?”

“I don’t want to hold hands right now”

It might help to have a few conversations rather than trying to cover everything at once. Revisit the idea of consent in already occurring situations in the child’s life.

Let them know that a healthy relationship is one where they feel safe, are respected, can be honest and are listened to.

Through this education, we can work to raise empowered young adults who understand and respect boundaries, promote bodily autonomy and have a clear understanding of healthy consent.

If you’ve experienced any kind of violence, abuse, bullying, harassment, sexual misconduct or discrimination, we’re here to help. Explore support options available in our community, including specialist support offered by the Harassment and Misconduct team here at Leeds.

Written by Charlotte Webster, Harassment and Misconduct team