When it comes to consent and the children, something I need to remind myself of occasionally is that consent is for more than rough-housing. We should ask for consent before engaging in gentle touches, before helping another person, before hugging, and in other situations, too…
During our music time on Wednesday, Heidi reminded us about practicing consent when we sang and played footsie. She said, “We will play footsie with a partner by touching our feet together. First, we will ask a partner for consent to put our feet together. Here, I’ll show you like this!” She asked a partner “may I touch my feet to your feet?” and when she got consent, they played footsie. When it was our turn, the children asked one another for consent.
SM asked MS, “Can I touch my feet to your feet?” MS responded, “No.” So SM turned to another partner, FBD, and asked “Can I touch my feet to your feet?” And FBD said, “Yes!” Then OC asked CMG, “Can I touch my feet to your feet?” CMG put her feet out toward OC’s feet, saying yes with her body language.
Before this, I’d been in the Nest with the children, and we were drawing with crayons. As the children finished up, I remembered a recent training our staff did together on process-based art. Something that was significant to me in that training was the idea of asking children if they want their name on their papers and where they want it, as this is one way to honor the process of making art over the product. So I asked the children if they wanted their names, and where, and I also asked if it was OK to put other information on their papers (like the date or a message). In this way, we were practicing consent.
Consent is one of the 100 languages that children use to communicate.