If, like me, as a parent you decide to “Google” children’s boundaries, the majority of information available is about how we as parents/practitioners can set boundaries for our little ones to follow. However, for so many, the bigger concern is “How do I help my child set clear and safe boundaries with others?”
Today I have been thinking about this, after seeing a friend post a similar question to Facebook. My intial response was to go stright into the training archive and dig out everything I could find about “Safe Touch” or the brilliant NSPCC Pantosaurus Song! But the more I thoughgt about this, including how we model this behaviour and where it begins, the more I felt that this can be played out on many levels in many arenas of their every days lives, from birth.
The philosphies behind child-led approaches (weaning, playing, learning, sleeping, toilet training etc) tend to discuss the meta-cognitive benefits at great length. But another great and more subtle benefit is boundaries and consent.
When people start to talk about consent I know that for some reason, many reasons in fact, it can be a trigger word (but that’s another blog entirely!). But let’s be honest, creating environnments where children know that it is safe to say “No” or “I don’t like this”, “I am uncomfortabvle”, means creating space for children to establish those boundaries confidently. It’s no use saying “we want children to be able to say no to unsafe touch” but having signs up around a school that say “Pupils MUST not say NO at any time to adults in this school” really undermines the concept of safe boundaries.
The same can be said for when children are made to participate in an activity that makes them feel extremely uncomfortable, we can see the benefits of partcicpation and the growth it has to offer, but do we see the trauma that can be caused when a child feels like they don’t have the right to say “no”?
I have put together a list of resources that could be useful if this is something you are open to assessing and/or adressing in your home or setting: