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How to Talk About Informed Consent with Kids

What the horrific trial of Larry Nassar has taught us.

How to Talk About Informed Consent with Kids

Teaching our children about consent and their bodies has never been more urgent. Many of us have watched in horror as the details emerged in the trial of former doctor to the American gymnastics team Larry Nassar, who, under the guise of medical care, abused over 150 young women -- some as young as 6 years old. It’s been a sobering parenting lesson in communication with our children, about boundaries and bodies and authority figures.

And yet, there are subtle, everyday ways we undermine the lessons we teach our children about consent -- through our own actions and the actions of others, many with whom we are complicit.

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This especially hit very close to home during a recent visit to the pediatrician with my 6-and-a-half-year-old. We were at a routine annual checkup with a female doctor. While performing my son’s body exam, she was peppering me with questions about his health, and I admittedly wasn’t carefully watching what she was doing with her tools or her hands. My son was trying to get his own two cents in, as 6-year-olds often do, so I tried to remain focused on what the pediatrician was saying. Suddenly, my son shuddered, his cheeks turned bright red, and he said, “Mooooom, she just touched my PRIVATE PARTS!”

“It’s OK,” the doctor said. “I’m a doctor.” I found myself agreeing with her, maybe to reassure him in the moment, or maybe because I was embarrassed at his outburst. “Yes, she’s a doctor,” I parroted. “So this is her job. She’s making sure all your body parts are healthy, and that includes your genitals.”

The second I said it, I regretted it. She hadn’t alerted him (or me) to her touch, nor had she asked for permission. It wasn’t OK. And, judging by his face and how his body had tensed up, he wasn’t OK.

As soon as we left, I explained that what the doctor had done was wrong and that I was also wrong in agreeing with her. I apologized; and I explained that she should have alerted us about her touch; that she should have asked for permission before touching; and that since it didn’t happen, I should have spoken up.

While the mind of a 6-year-old boy is often quick to move on, this experience clearly stayed with him. On the way home, he talked about it with me. At his play date, he talked about it with his friend. And at breakfast the next morning, unprompted, he talked it about it with my husband.

What happened at the doctor's office goes against everything we try hard to teach our two boys about consent: “Your body belongs to you, and no one can touch it without your permission.” And yet, I allowed it to happen right in front of me, and worse – I was complicit in it by agreeing with the doctor while we were still in the exam room. I can’t help but think about some of the survivor testimonies in the Nassar case, in which the mothers were in the exam room with their daughters, naïve to and unaware of the abuse as it was happening.

Of course, what happened to my son is a very, very far cry from what these women experienced at the hands of this sick criminal, but in a way, I identify with the mothers. Like them, I trust the people who are supposed to take care of my children to do their jobs in the most professional and respectful way.

Since then, I’ve been thinking about the mixed messages I have been sending my children, and it turns out, I haven’t been so great at modeling consent with my kids. While I do tell them that no one can touch their bodies without their permission, I’ve also said, “no one, except me, Dad, your babysitters, and the doctor.” After all, there are baths to be had, tushies to be wiped and, of course, health exams to be done. But I now realize that I should have included one very important distinction: even among that elite group of people who are allowed to touch their bodies, there is still the prerequisite of, “only if you say it is OK first.”

It may seem extreme to some parents, but I am no longer taking my children’s voices for granted when it comes to their bodies and their ownership of them. I want my sons to know that their bodies are their own and that they get a say in what is done to them, whether the person doing them is a doctor, a dentist, a babysitter, or even me.

Now does this mean that I will be asking my three-year-old his permission to wash his hair at bath time? No. But I will tell him what is about to happen, so that he understands that prior to someone touching him, there can and should be a conversation. And if he says no, I’ll give him the soap, and let him have a try at it!

In the future, I will not ignore my child’s questions at his own doctor’s appointments, and I will be wary of the doctor that doesn’t read a child’s cues when they seem fearful and instead continues to examine their body. I will choose my child’s comfort and my own over the desire to finish an appointment. I will ask the questions my kids don’t have the ability to ask yet, because I am their advocate, and that is my job. At the next checkup, I will say, “Can you walk us through what you’re going to be doing today?” because being in a doctor’s office is scary for a lot of people, especially for children.

Cases in the news like that of Dr. Nassar remind parents the scary truth that abuse of trust can come from even the most respected of people in our children’s lives. We must be consistent in our messages to our kids about what is and what is not OK with respect to their bodies so they know when to speak up – as my son did in that moment on the exam table. And we must listen when they do.

Photo from Alexis' Instagram account.

14 Toys that will keep your kids entertained inside *and* outside

They transition seamlessly for indoor play.

With Labor day weekend in the rearview and back-to-school in full swing, most parents are fresh out of boxes to check on their "Fun Concierge" hit list. It's also the point of diminishing returns on investing in summer-only toys. So with that in mind, we've rounded up some of our favorite toys that are not only built to last but will easily make the transition from outdoor to indoor play. Even better, they're Montessori-friendly and largely open-ended so your kids can get a ton of use out of them.

From sunny backyard afternoons to rainy mornings stuck inside, these toys are sure to keep little ones engaged and entertained.

Meadow ring toss game

Plan Toys meadow ring toss game

Besides offering a fantastic opportunity to hone focus, coordination, determination and taking turns, lawn games are just plain fun. Set them up close together for the littles and spread them out when Mom and Dad get in on the action. With their low profile and rope rings, they're great for indoors as well.

$30

Balance board

Plan Toys balance board

Balance boards are a fabulous way to get the wiggles out. This one comes with a rope attachment, making it suitable for even the youngest wigglers. From practicing their balance and building core strength to working on skills that translate to skateboarding and snowboarding, it's a year-round physical activity that's easy to bring inside and use between Zoom classes, too!

$75

Detective set

Plan Toys detective setDetective Set

This set has everything your little detective needs to solve whatever mystery they might encounter: an eye glasses, walkie-talkie, camera, a red lens, a periscope and a bag. Neighborhood watch? Watch out.

$40

Wooden doll stroller

Janod wooden doll strollerWooden Doll Stroller

Take their charges on a stroll around the block with this classic doll stroller. With the same versatility they're used to in their own ride, this heirloom quality carriage allows their doll or stuffy to face them or face the world.

$120

Sand play set

Plan Toys sand set

Whether you're hitting the beach or the backyard sandbox, this adorable wooden sand set is ready for action. Each scoop has an embossed pattern that's perfect for sand stamping. They're also totally suitable for water play in the wild or the bathtub.

$30

Water play set

Plan Toys water play set

Filled with sand or water, this tabletop sized activity set keeps little ones busy, quiet and happy. (A mama's ideal trifecta 😉). It's big enough to satisfy their play needs but not so big it's going to flood your floors if you bring the fun inside on a rainy day.

$100

Mini golf set

Plan Toys mini golf set

Fore! This mini golf set is lawn and living room ready. Set up a backyard competition or incorporate into homeschooling brain breaks that shift focus and build concentration.

$40

Vintage scooter balance bike

Janod retro scooter balance bike

Pedals are so 2010. Balance bikes are the way to go for learning to ride a bike while skipping the training wheels stage altogether. This impossibly cool retro scooter-style is built to cruise the neighborhood or open indoor space as they're learning.

$121

Wooden rocking pegasus

plan toys wooden rocking pegasus

Your little will be ready to take flight on this fun pegasus. It gently rocks back and forth, but doesn't skimp on safety—its winged saddle, footrests and backrest ensure kids won't fall off whether they're rocking inside or outside.

$100

Croquet set

Plan Toys croquet set

The cutest croquet set we've ever seen! With adorable animal face wooden balls and a canvas bag for easy clean up, it's also crafted to stick around awhile. Round after round, it's great for teaching kiddos math and problem-solving skills as well.

$45

Wooden digital camera

fathers factory wooden digital camera

Kids get the chance to assemble the camera on their own then can adventure anywhere to capture the best moments. With two detachable magnetic lenses, four built-in filters and video recorder, your little photographer can tap into their creativity from summertime to the holidays.

$179

Wooden bulldozer toy

plan toys wooden bulldozer toy

Whether they're digging up sand in the backyad or picking up toys inside, kids can get as creative as they want picking up and moving things around. Even better? Its wooden structure means it's not an eye sore to look at wherever your digger drops it.

$100

Pull-along hippo

janod toys pull along hippo toy

There's just something so fun about a classic pull-along toy and we love that they seamlessly transition between indoor and outdoor play. Crafted from solid cherry and beechwood, it's tough enough to endure outdoor spaces your toddler takes it on.

$33

Baby forest fox ride-on

janod toys baby fox ride on

Toddlers will love zooming around on this fox ride-on, and it's a great transition toy into traditional balance bikes. If you take it for a driveway adventure, simply use a damp cloth to wipe down the wheels before bringing back inside.

$88

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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I never wanted to be a mom. It wasn't something I ever thought would happen until I fell madly in love with my husband—who knew very well he wanted children. While he was a natural at entertaining our nephews or our friends' kids, I would awkwardly try to interact with them, not really knowing what to say or do.

Our first pregnancy was a surprise, a much-wanted one but also a unicorn, "first try" kind of pregnancy. As my belly grew bigger, so did my insecurities. How do you even mom when you never saw motherhood in your future? I focused all my uncertainties on coming up with a plan for the delivery of my baby—which proved to be a terrible idea when my dreamed-of unmedicated vaginal birth turned into an emergency C-section. I couldn't even start motherhood the way I wanted, I thought. And that feeling happened again when I couldn't breastfeed and instead had to pump and bottle-feed. And once more, when all the stress from things not going my way turned into debilitating postpartum anxiety that left me not really enjoying my brand new baby.

As my baby grew, slowly so did my confidence that I could do this. When he would tumble to the ground while learning how to walk and only my hugs could calm him, I felt invincible. But on the nights he wouldn't sleep—whether because he was going through a regression, a leap, a teeth eruption or just a full moon—I would break down in tears to my husband telling him that he was a better parent than me.

Then I found out I was pregnant again, and that this time it was twins. I panicked. I really cannot do two babies at the same time. I kept repeating that to myself (and to my poor husband) at every single appointment we had because I was just terrified. He, of course, thought I could absolutely do it, and he got me through a very hard pregnancy.

When the twins were born at full term and just as big as singleton babies, I still felt inadequate, despite the monumental effort I had made to grow these healthy babies and go through a repeat C-section to make sure they were both okay. I still felt my skin crawl when they cried and thought, What if I can't calm them down? I still turned to my husband for diaper changes because I wasn't a good enough mom for twins.

My husband reminded me (and still does) that I am exactly what my babies need. That I am enough. A phrase that has now become my mantra, both in motherhood and beyond, because as my husband likes to say, I'm the queen of selling myself short on everything.

So when my babies start crying, I tell myself that I am enough to calm them down.

When my toddler has a tantrum, I remind myself that I am enough to get through to him.

When I go out with the three kids by myself and start sweating about everything that could go wrong (poop explosions times three), I remind myself that I am enough to handle it all, even with a little humor.


And then one day I found this bracelet. Initially, I thought how cheesy it'd be to wear a reminder like this on my wrist, but I bought it anyway because something about it was calling my name. I'm so glad I did because since day one I haven't stopped wearing it.

Every time I look down, there it is, shining back at me. I am enough.

I Am Enough bracelet 

SONTAKEY  I Am Enough Bracelet

May this Oath Bracelet be your reminder that you are perfect just the way you are. That you are enough for your children, you are enough for your friends & family, you are enough for everything that you do. You are enough, mama <3

$35

We independently select and share the products we love—and may receive a commission if you choose to buy. You've got this.

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Chrissy Teigen/Instagram

When Chrissy Teigen announced her third pregnancy earlier this year we were so happy for her and now our hearts are with her as she is going through a pain that is unimaginable for many, but one that so many other mothers know.

Halfway through a high-risk pregnancy complicated by placenta issues, Teigen announced late Wednesday that she has suffered a pregnancy loss.

Our deepest condolences go out to Chrissy and her husband, John Legend (who has been by her side in the hospital for several days now).

In a social media post, Teigen explained she named this baby Jack.

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"We are shocked and in the kind of deep pain you only hear about, the kind of pain we've never felt before. We were never able to stop the bleeding and give our baby the fluids he needed, despite bags and bags of blood transfusions. It just wasn't enough," she wrote.

She continued: "We never decide on our babies' names until the last possible moment after they're born, just before we leave the hospital. But we, for some reason, had started to call this little guy in my belly Jack. So he will always be Jack to us. Jack worked so hard to be a part of our little family, and he will be, forever."

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