Respecting children's boundaries over the holiday
Children’s boundaries are often overlooked during holidays as aunts, uncles, grandparents and other extended family and friends come to town. Our kids are often expected to exchange hugs or touches that feel uncomfortable to them. This can leave them confused about touch and their body boundaries. Part of protecting kids from abuse is helping everyone respect their body boundaries.
Here are a few tips if you see someone not respecting your child’s body boundaries:
Respond to the person who is not being respectful: “Cayden looks uncomfortable right now and he pulled away when you tried to hug him. That’s his way of saying “no.” I think he’d prefer a different greeting.”
Reinforce healthy boundaries and respect: “If Cayden doesn’t want to give a hug, let’s respect that. Since he told you he didn’t want a hug, please stop. Cayden, how would you like to say hello?”
Encourage respectful touch: “Cayden really enjoys fist bumps, so I’m not surprised he said that he’d prefer that kind of greeting.” “Cayden may not feel comfortable speaking up, but I know that he really likes fist bumps. Cayden, would you like a fist bump instead of a hug?”
Encourage connection: “How about we play a game?” Would anyone like some hot chocolate?” “Cayden, what type of game would you like to play?” “What about a story, Cayden, what story would you like your grandma to read to you?”
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(Thank you to CARES Northwest staff for contributing to this article.)