The holidays are here – time for family get-togethers, friend drop-ins, and fun holiday traditions.
This season can quickly become hectic, too. Work becomes busier, obligations to family and friends quickly pile up, and somehow you must find the perfect gift for your favorite people.
During this busy time of holiday events and influx of visitors, it’s important to stay vigilant and talk to your kids about boundaries and body autonomy. Children have different personalities, some are more affectionate than others and that’s OK. We’ve all seen these personalities in action: a squirmy kid trying to get out of a hug or the kid who loves to hug everyone they meet.
As adults, it’s important for us to let kids have a choice about their bodies and how they use them – this teaches them from a young age about consent and can be protective against sexual abuse. It teaches children that they have the choice and can say no to authority figures, older youth, or anyone who makes them feel uncomfortable. If we want to comfort a child or reach out, it’s important we ask them if it’s OK first. “I’d love to give you a hug! Is that OK?” This tells the child they have a right to physical boundaries and ownership of their body.
So what happens when you have family or friends that may not be aware they should ask before showing physical affection? Won’t it be awkward? When you hear things like, “Come give your Aunt Anne a hug” or “I haven’t seen you in so long, come give your favorite Grandpa a kiss,” what do you do? This is an important time to show your kids you support them. As the trusted adult, you can intervene and politely let your family and friends know that your kids decide how they’d like to show affection. A healthy response might be, “Actually Dad, the kids prefer high-fives instead.” This will not only show your kids that you support them but also tell other adults that you reinforce their boundaries.
Even as parents, asking permission before hugging them shows your kids that it’s okay to say no, even to you. This gift of choice could be one of the best gifts you give them this holiday season.
Follow us on social media to stay up to date and join the conversation.