Ask, Listen, & Respect

Ask, Listen, and Respect is a multifunctional book for an adult (either parent, teacher or professional to read to their child or student. The story book is created by fold the book in reverse, extend inner tabs, and propping it up on its new side to create the flip book look. On the front, there is an empowering story for your child with the textual context for the parent or teacher on the back.

Ask, Listen, and Respect is a teaching tool I designed for children ages 4-10 years old and an adult to create a mindset of asking permission, listening to the response, and respecting the choice.  

Practicing these three steps is an effective habit for children to develop at a young age. This book not only empowers children to respect others, but also supports children to speak up about their comfort levels. This teaching tool educates parent/guardians, teachers, and professionals on the importance of listening and accepting children’s decisions. When children’s choices are validated by those around them, they can be more confident and comfortable in discussions about how they feel. As children grow up, this reinforced habit can carry over into personal and professional relationships to build a strong and healthy foundation for communication about consent.  

This capstone project represents how I will use my Interdisciplinary Studies major (Graphic Design, Communications, and Marketing). I studied the graphic design styles in children books, observing what type of cartoons represent the tone of your book and what characters are most relatable for the target audience. The language in the book shows what I have learned in communication about the most effective communication methods based on who you’re speaking with and the message you’re trying to convey. Since I am talking with a child, I used appropriate words for their age such as “personal bubble” to talk about heavy topics such as consent. The marketing aspect of this project is tested by the affect my story has. I networked with professionals in the fields of children’s psychology, language, sexual assault crisis center outreach teams. I created a product for professionals and parents to not only teach children and students but also for adults to learn communication they should be using. With my Graphic Design, Communications, and Marketing degree I will use art as an instrument to share knowledge and ideas. Art has the power to change minds. I hope to use my art to advocate for ideologies that I believe in.

This flip-book so far has four story pages and their corresponding information page. Each page has a different lesson of teaching consent that is important for children to practice: No means no, no answer means no, “no, but…”, and verbal & non-verbal communication.

On the No means No page, I talk about the importance to create a habit of asking first and respecting yes or no answers. Children can learn from a young age how to ask first and have that practice throughout their lives. It is important that children understand that they do not always get what they want, so that they do not feel entitled to others’ behaviors. A child might feel hurt, bothered, and even angry that they are not getting their way but this is a learning opportunity for them to respect others.  

If a child says “no” and they are not responded with a respect for their choice, it enforced the idea that they are undeserving of their wants and needs. Respecting a child’s choice sets a standard of how they should be treated giving them autonomy over themselves. As they grow up, they may be asked much more than just to play blocks, in these cases they should feel listened and empowered to respond knowing they will be respected. 

On the No Answer means no page, it covers how teaching a child to ask permission before they do an action teaches them respect for who they are with. Sometimes a child might not answer because they are not comfortable saying “no”, do not understand what is being asked of them, or unable to articulate their feelings. In these cases, where a child does not answer, that is not a “yes” or up to you to decide for them. It is your job to explain to them further so they understand or tell them it’s okay for them to say no if they are uncomfortable. 

As they get older, these are patterns that they can carry over into professional and personal relationships or social groups where there are pressures to do what everyone else is doing. There is also a pressure to do something just because it is what someone else wants you to do. It is important for a child to be taught that their silence is not an invitation for someone to make up their mind for them. 

The third page, “no, but…” encourages parents to have a conversation with children about how they want to be touched by others, and to teach them words such as: personal bubble or private spaces. An open communication about a child’s personal bubble can lead to a child being more comfortable talking about how they want to interact with others when they are older. Everyone has different levels of comfort when it comes to being touched, and it is important that a child is the one in charge of making that choice for themselves.  

Children should not feel pressured to kiss, hug, or touch if they are uncomfortable because it reinforces the idea that how they feel is second to others. When the person who wants to show affection in a physical way is someone you love, saying no is hard because you do not want them to be offended that you do not show affection in the same way as them. Saying “No, but..” and suggesting an alternative is great for children who have a hard time saying just “no” to people they care about. It is important for adults to accept other suggestions that the child is more comfortable with, so that they are empowered to express how they feel. 

The last page, Verbal & non-verbal communication talks about how children and adults have many ways of communicating with each other. While verbal communication seems to be the most obvious way to give consent, non-verbal communication is just as important. Reading facial expressions, hand gestures, and body language/orientation can also give you can idea of how the person feels. In this scene, Logan is laughing but his face and body are sending a different message.  

A big part of effective communication that children can learn and use as adults is reading non-verbal signs, such as: crossed or open arms, eye contact, and pulling away or leaning forward. Logan originally was having fun in the tickle fight but is allowed to want to stop at any point. When someone non-verbally is showing signs of being uncomfortable it is important to stop and verbally confirm consent, even if it was previously given. Part of respect is understanding that choices change and to make people feel comfortable to express when or if that happens. 

With this book I hope to teach young children about consent in an age appropriate way through the events of their everyday life. The purpose of this book is to create habits in children that will help them when they are older and the issues of consent are higher stakes. Ask, Listen, and Respect will hopefully be part of a larger collection of stories I am writing to support, educate, and empower.

Process and People

I want to keep a live record of the people helping and guiding me on my capstone project as I go on the journey of creating my children’s book. This post I will continue to update as there are new ideas and developments for my story.

Katie Herzig: Professor of psychology at Plymouth State University, specializing in children’s development. She had amazing insight about real life families teaching modern lessons to their children. She pointed me in the right direction of the demographic of children I should target the story with; a group that is young enough that the story is being read to them, but old enough that the lessons are understood.

Janette Wiggett: Plymouth State University TitleIX Coordinator. Provided insight about why communications about consent is important. She has been my mentor all year teaching me laws and language of sexual misconduct issues and really opened my eyes up to the important of messaging around this topic.

Tina: After meeting with Tina E from Voices Against Violence I had such a better idea of where this project was going. I am turning my children’s book in a marketing flipbook learning tool for children and adults.

https://www.gse.harvard.edu/news/uk/18/12/consent-every-age is a website that talks about how to teach consent at every age.

  • Develop a shared vocabulary
  • Lay the social-emotional groundwork
  • Teach kids that it’s OK to express hurt
  • Model consent and empower student

Reference Books:

Sanders, Jayneen, and Cherie Zamazing. No Means No!: Teaching Children about Personal Boundaries, Respect and Consent; Empowering Kids by Respecting Their Choices and Their Right to Say, No! Educate2Empower Publishing, an Imprint of UpLoad Publishing, 2018.

Kurtzman-Counter, Samantha, and Abbie Schiller. Miles Is the Boss of His Body. Mother Co., 2014.

Working intro page:

Ask, Listen, and Respect is a multifunctional book for you and your child or student. Fold the book in reverse, extend inner tabs, and prop it up on its new side to create the flip book look. On the front, there is an empowering story for your child with the textual context for the parent or teacher on the back! 

Ask, Listen, and Respect is a teaching tool I designed for children ages 4-10 years old and an adult to create a mindset of asking permission, listening to the response, and respecting the choice.  

Asking is a great way to find something out like…  

“Do you want to come over and play?”  

Listening is how you learn the answer to what you asked…  

“I cannot come over to play. I am going to my cousin’s house.”  

Respecting is important to show that you care about their feelings and the right to say yes or no..  

“That is okay, maybe another time, have fun at your cousin’s house!”  

Practicing these three steps is an effective habit for children to develop at a young age. This book not only empowers children to respect others, but also supports children to speak up about their comfort levels. This teaching tool educates parent/guardians, teachers, and professionals on the importance of listening and accepting children’s decisions. When children’s choices are validated by those around them, they can be more confident and comfortable in discussions about how they feel. As children grow up, this reinforced habit can carry over into personal and professional relationships to build a strong and healthy foundation for communication about consent.  

Original sketches of characters
Coloring the characters

There is a huge importance of the style of character because it contributes to the tone of the story, reliability from the audience to the character, and visual engagement. I studied many cartoon styles and their type of story they were from.

These are popular characters that children from the age demographic I was targeting watch or have seen. To the right is the same character draw in many different styles.

Senior Capstone Mind Mapping

Where To Start:

My interdisciplinary Studies major is a combination of graphic design, marketing, and communications. With each one of these disciplines I will add a new element to my capstone project. I will use graphic design to visually communicate a message, make the art style age a prorate and relatable, and study the art behind the media I use. I will use marketing to understand my target demographic and apply the project to the that benefit of the consumer. I will use communications to appropriately articulate the message taking into account tone, language, non verbals, and the agenda of my project.

Mind Mapping #1

What is the message:

Using my women studies minor and my experience in working and volunteering with crisis centers, TitleIX, and sexual misconduct awareness groups, I will focus my capstone project as a resource for support, empowerment, and education in these topics.

There is a huge lack of lessons for young children empowering them to say “no” and educating them about personal space or speaking up when they are uncomfortable. When these are not repeatedly taught to children they grow up in a world that is teaching them to be polite at the risk of their own comfort and safety. 

I have worked the NH Young Women’s Conference for the past four years, and have had the incredible honors of helping with workshops that have built the foundation of what I want my Interdisciplinary capstone project to be. At this conference, they teach young children important lessons on body image, comfort levels, self-love, and healthy coping methods. I would love to bring these concepts, of taking difficult conversations, and making them age appropriate for children to better understand them. 

A large issue I want to dive into, are the behaviors that society pushes onto young girls that stunt their growth making them susceptible for believing they are deserving, as an adult, of dating violence.

Mind Mapping #2

What is the medium:

Through a children’s book, I want to embed situations into a story, that empower kids to say ‘no’ and speak about their personal space. I will develop a story of the every day life for a family and focus on the normal domestic situations where life lessons can be taught to children about the power of consent. This book will take the reader through a day of a young girl and through her eyes understand the internal struggle of actions that are normalized that make children uncomfortable, and have the parents in the book show the daughter to not be silences and speak up. 

Society consistently teaches women from a young age to be polite to the point that puts women in danger. Women learn this from a very young age; to make ourselves small, quiet, and blindly obedient. As women grow older, these learned habits groom them to be targets for domestic violence, making them believe they deserve it.

I would like this children book to be targeted at an age demographic that is young enough that the book is still read to them, but old enough that they understand the concepts in the book. I will work with faculty in the psychology department and employees at Voices Against Violence to do research on how to approach this project to build the story.

Mind Mapping #3

Mind Mapping #4

Timeline:

Research

  1. Contact Education faculty about how to write a children’s book
  2. Contact Psychology faculty about how to talk to children this age
  3. Look at other children books to learn about art styles for this age
  4. Meet with Tina from Voices Against Violence to understand language and lessons that are important

Decisions

  1. Choose age demographic
  2. Pick an artistic style
  3. Select three or four situations where children would learn about consent as a child

Execution

  1. Write the script, work stop it, bring it to the writing center, have faculty review it
  2. Draw the illustrations for all the pages
  3. Print book

Bring it to life

  1. Read the book to a group of young students and discuss the lessons in the book
  2. Pros and cons of effectiveness