As we approach “Universal Children’s Day”- November 20, it’s a good time to have a deep think about children’s rights (though they should always be a priority). What are they? How are we supporting and respecting them? How are we teaching kids about their rights and how to speak up in favour of those rights…

At Triangle Genius we are here to encourage and celebrate “every child’s kind of genius” – we provide support for parents and educators to truly celebrate the magical uniqueness of each child, focusing on their individual strengths, interests and passions. We allow space for individual children to be truly heard and valued for exactly who they are, which we believe is their fundamental right.

Triangle Genius is run by a Masters Trained Educator with over a decade of experience, so how do we support parents and educators in encouraging all kids to not only understand their rights, but actively speak up in support of them?

Well firstly…

What rights do children have?

Nearly every country in the world has agreed to implement the Convention on the Rights of the Child 1989 (CRC).  

The Convention has four guiding principles:

  1. Non-discrimination: the 42 articles in the CRC relate to the rights of EVERY child, no matter their religion, race or abilities; whatever they think or say; what their culture is; whether they are boys or girls or whether they are rich or poor.
  2. The best interests of the child: any decision that is made, or any action that is taken, that may affect children must prioritise the best interests of the child, always. 
  3. Ensuring the child’s survival and development: every child has the inherent right to life, and it is the responsibility of decision-makers to ensure they are provided every opportunity to develop and reach their potential.
  4. Participation: children are experts in their own lives and experiences, and should be consulted on decisions that affect them. Every child has the right to express his or her opinion, and can provide advice and valuable insight into how their rights can best be protected and fulfilled. 

The Supporting young children’s rights: Statement of intent (2015-2018) has been designed to support teachers, educators, the community, families and children to ethically and authentically support the rights of children in early childhood; to understand and implement child rights education in early childhood education and care settings, and to advocate for children’s rights.

Five key themes are included in the statement:

  • The right to be heard
  • freedom from violence, abuse and neglect
  • the opportunity to thrive
  • engaged civics and citizenship
  • action & accountability

Learning About Human Rights

Obviously children all have a different level of understanding when considering the topic of human rights depending on their development, age, environmental influences etc. and this should be taken into account when teaching human rights. As parents we know how to communicate with our kids to ensure they are actively understanding the content and gain maximum take away knowledge and power.

Human rights are abstract concepts with every day repercussions, most children who’ve started school and have social relationships are capable of learning the principles behind human rights despite the teaching methods varying. Younger children, might not be able to grasp certain concepts like dignity, independence or freedom but they can begin to understand them in context while learning through play, with appropriate guidance – beginning with the concept of “rules” in a game to learn about fair/unfair in practice.

As the children get older, you can use more formal teaching methods and texts that explain the nature of human rights in more appropriate detail. 

One issue I have witnessed repeatedly in the school system is the idea of “blanket consequences”. I remember feeling so frusturated and powerless at school when tetachers would apply consequences to the whole class in response to the behaviour of a select few. I remember thinking “why should I bother doing the right thing?”

I recall speaking up once in high school, year 7 science – I asked why we all had to stay in when only a couple of people did the wrong thing and the teacher told me “it’s the blanket effect”. I remember being pretty pissed off and really not having a clue what that meant except that it wasn’t fair. 

As a teacher I’ve learned the psychological reason why some educators use this pretty common technique. Basically, they’re relying on the social pressure of the majority to influence the few… 

The fact is though, this social pressure hardly ever works because there will always be kids that just don’t care if others are punished for their choices and usually the only impact is children feeling (justifiably) mistreated and they might direct this mistreatment at the only person/people they realistically can – the students doing the “wrong” thing. Kids aren’t in a position to understand that maybe that child has sensory processing difficulties, behavior challenges, unjust environmental influences, neglect, lack of learning experience, additional needs etc. etc. 

Therefore, the teacher is impacting each child’s mental health, as well as their individual perception and understanding of their rights and the concept of fairness by implementing this outdated teaching tool. The children would benefit much more from seeing ‘fair and unfair’ and ‘justice’ modelled in context. However, this can also be an opportunity for a teachable moment encouraging appropriate activism and speaking up for their rights. I try to instill this in  my very shy 7 year old and hopefully one day it will stick but children can definitely be guided to respectfully stand up for their rights in this context. 

Books on Human Rights for Kids

eSafeKids provide an amazing collection of books and resources to assist kids in their journey of comprehending their rights…

My Underpants Rule – Easy Kidsafe Series By: Rod and Kate Power

Teaching young children about appropriate and inappropriate behaviour in relation to their private parts is tricky – how do you engage the child without scaring them? How do you make sure the lesson “sticks”? This best-selling book makes it FUN for kids and EASY for adults by using rhyming language, bright colours, a superhero theme and child-friendly humour, reinforced by a scenario questions “game”. This one is a favourite in our house – and oh so powerful in it’s message!!

Welcome To Consent by Yumi Stynes & Dr Melissa Kang

An inclusive, frank and funny guide to navigating consent for tweens and teens of all genders, from the award-winning authors of Welcome To Your Period. 

Adolescent health experts Dr Melissa Kang and Yumi Stynes have written the only guide you need to figuring out the rules of consent. Whether you’re a curious 11 to 14-year-old, or the parent of someone with a bunch of questions, this book is reassuring, interesting, and full of the info you need!

Check out eSafeKids for more of their amazing collection. eSafeKids also provides Protective Behaviours, Body Safety, Cyber Safety, Digital Wellness and Pornography education, training, workshops, books and resources. eSafeKids provides services throughout metropolitan and regional Australia and internationally. Workshops and training can be delivered face-to-face at your location or online as webinar. 

Other amazing resources…

Dreams of Freedom by Amnesty International  (for 8-12year olds)

Combines the words of human rights heroes such as Nelson Mandela, Anne Frank and Malala Yousafzai, with beautiful illustrations from renowned international artists including Oliver Jeffers and Chris Riddell.

Lies We Tell Ourselves by Robin Talley (young adults)

A coming-of-age novel, Lies We Tell Ourselves focuses on two brave young women who confront racism and homophobia to live as they choose.

Educational videos covering Human Rights for kids: 

What is a human right? – a 2-minute animation by the United Nations that explains what it means to have human rights.

Wadjda (2012) – a movie about a 10-year old Saudi girl who wants to ride a bike and wear sneakers, which is frowned upon where she is from. 

He Named Me Malala (2015) – a documentary about the life and struggles of Malala Yousafzai.

Dancing in Jaffa (2013) – another documentary about a ballroom dancer who goes back to Israel (his native country) and teaches little children how to dance in an ethnically mixed group.

Just like adults, every child has rights.

A Key ingredient to children understanding their rights is having trusted adults that are consistently and positively encouraging them to speak up, communicate and advocate for themselves and their rights. Emotionology is a wonderful business – passionate about creating tools to support children’s emotional growth to create overall wellness, happiness, immunity and quality of life.  They believe that all children should be given the opportunity and safe space to communicate, share and accept their emotions and create beautiful products to encourage these skills. 

Flourish Aus.  grew from a little idea that was planted by a Sydney based mum & graphic designer, Chantelle Camilleri. Who wanted to create beautifully designed educational products for her own kids, to help encourage connection, self love & emotional intelligence.

It is their passion to help inspire & create confident kids! Discover. Nurture. Become. Flourish!

 

 

 

Social Seeds  is an inclusive conversational card game that encourages playful yet meaningful conversations between friends, siblings, families and more!

Each player is provided an equal opportunity to participate and grow.

Planting and nurturing awareness of self and others, understanding, confidence and active listening skills!

This delightful business provides wonderfully unique products that successfully teach children about their rights in a way that resonates with them in a powerful way.

At Social Seeds  you will find the spectacular book: Be the difference by Jayneen Sanders and illustrated by Cherie Zamazing.

This engaging book provides over 40 powerful ideas on how kids and the people who love them can make a real difference in our world!

Using kid-friendly text and beautiful illustrations, the focus is on three key areas: empathy and kindness, racial and gender equality, and caring for the environment.

You will also find the Book: Let’s Talk About, Body Boundaries, Consent & Respect. By Jayneen Sanders and illustrated by Sarah Jennings

This book was designed to teach children about body ownership, respectful relationships, feelings and emotions, choices and recognising bullying behaviours!

This book explores body boundaries, (both theirs and others), consent and respect with children in a child-friendly and easily-understood manner, providing familiar scenarios for children to engage with and discuss.

The wonderful Gabby at Social Seeds also provides  Affirmation Cards for Bullying – Confidence In Me!

Confidence in Me Affirmation Cards contain 24 specifically formulated cards that aim to help those who read them build their confidence and overcome bullying behaviour. 

Affirmations are positive statements that can help you to challenge and overcome self sabotaging and reoccurring negative thoughts. When you repeat them often, and believe in them, you can start to make positive mind set changes.

Kids can use these affirmations as a reminder to keep being uniquely themselves and that you are so much more than the opinion of others!

Conversation Card Game – Buddy or Bully? By Social Seeds

Buddy or Bully? Conversation cards were carefully curated to help spark conversation between adults and children about friendships, inclusion and bullying. 

Bullying behaviour is sadly on the rise in Australia, with more than 50% of students reporting they have experienced bullying in some form. Of which: 

– 50% felt depressed 

– 28% self harmed 

– 15% developed an eating disorder 

– 11% attempted to take their own life

27% between grades 4 and 9 reported being bullied every few weeks or more often. 

84% of students who were bullied online, were also bullied in person. 

Peers are present as onlookers in 85% of bullying interactions, and play a central role in the bullying process.

This is a serious issue that really needs to be talked about more! 

This is why Buddy or Bully? was developed. With 45 open ended question cards that will encourage discussions about bullying, inclusion, how to handle challenging social situations and how to be kind to others! 

It’s imperative that we are teaching kids about their rights but it is even more important that we are advocating on their behalf, and encouraging them to speak up for their rights. If every child has trusted adults encouraging them to be all that they can be and valuing everything they are – children will be able to understand and implement their knowledge in powerful ways. At Triangle Genius we’re excited about celebrating every child and the formidable impact of honouring individuality.

Check out all of our fabulous businesses over at Triangle Genius and join our community of Triangle Genius learners, parents and educators dedicated to the rights of all children.

Ashlei

Triangle Genius