Navigating the Christmas holidays – bodily autonomy and technology usage
For those who celebrate Christmas, or get together for any other celebration over the holiday period, this is a perfect opportunity to allow your kids to practise consent and bodily autonomy. How so? Well, as adults, we get to decide to whom and how we give our affection. By providing children with the choice to do the same, you’re teaching them a valuable lesson that their body is their own, and that they don’t owe anybody physical contact.
So rather than forcing your child to hug his aunty after she gives him a present, or obliging when grandpa tells your daughter to come give him a kiss on the cheek, let your kids decide. You might also want to have a conversation with your extended family beforehand through text, call or email. The fantastic site About Consent has a script template here if you’d like something to work off.
Psychologists agree that this helps to set children up with good practices for later in life, as this article from The New Daily explains. Some family members might be a little awkward or discomforted, but your child’s rights and safety are what come first.
You might say, ‘You know how we’ve talked about how no one has a right to see or touch private parts? Well, that can also means that no one has the right to make you give them, or them give you, things like hugs or kisses as well. I just want you to know that it’s always okay to decide what you feel comfortable with.’
Holidays and technology usage
With all the free time over the school break, it’s a lot harder to police just how much time kids are spending on social media, games and television. This is especially true of secondary school children who might be left at home alone during the day. None of us want our kids spending their summer in front of a screen, but how do we help to stop this? How do we have conversations that are constructive and don’t spin off into argument?
Appealing to children and involving them in the conversation is a great place to start. Ask them how much time they think is appropriate to spend online or in front of the television, and come up with a deal. You can ask them to text you when they log on and log off, as this will help to show them how much time they’re actually spending in front of a screen. If they have siblings, this will hopefully keep them honest (because they’ll be told on).
You could say, ‘Before we all settle into holiday mode, I’d just like to have a quick chat with you about managing technology over the summer. I’m sure you’ll agree that you don’t want to spend half your holidays in front of a screen? What rules do you think would be fair for screen time? If I’m not home, would you feel comfortable texting me when you log on and log off? That’s not to get you in trouble; it just helps to be aware of the time you’re spending online.’
While it’s important to set hard and fast rules, by involving our kids in the conversation, we’re asking them to live up to their own morals as well as ours. Justine explores these ideas further and provides more tips on minimising technology usage in our ‘Let’s Talk’ video on Fortnite, which you can watch here.