At this age, toddlers are very explorative and inquisitive and, whilst we want to encourage this, we can teach and introduce boundaries in the following ways:
- listening to when they say they don’t want to hug someone. No means no, so respect them and this message when they say no.
- whenever they are getting undressed or becoming naked themselves - explain why so they can understand when it’s appropriate for example: ‘we are going to get undressed now because’ ... (we are having a bath, you need a nappy change, we need to change your clothes etc)
- when playing and tickling etc if they say stop, we stop immediately, no questions. No ‘go on, one more’. No ‘are you sure you want me to stop?’ Stop means stop. This works both ways, so when you say stop they stop too = parents modelling consent.
- When changing their nappy or helping them with toilet training, teach your toddlers the names of their genitals! Vulva, Penis, Labia are all normal parts of their body and you can start to explain what their functions are - ‘Yes, that’s your penis and that’s for when you go to the toilet.’ (obviously, keep it age-appropriate)
- Following through on what you have told them. If you follow through on whatever promise/ time set / destination to come next it helps them build a trust with you and shows that when someone says something they mean it (this is the base for learning when someone says ‘no’ they mean it)
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