Do your relatives want to hug, kiss and touch your kids…but your kids sometimes don’t want to? What do you do? Do you force your children to hug Uncle Joe or Nana Betty so as not to insult the adult? If so this is the message you are sending your child:
“The wants and feelings of the adults are more important than your wants and feelings. I, the adult, can tell you what to do with your body.”
This message is subliminal – you have sent the message to the child that even though you might not be comfortable, or perhaps not in the mood to give a hug, you have to because I have said that you need to. This makes a child feel powerless instead of feeling powerful and in control of how they “share” their bodies with others. We know parents don’t intentionally want to send that message but we do it all the time – check out this scene: (shown in picture from our children’s book)
Uncle Joe comes to visit and says to his niece, “Come give your Uncle a hug.” She says, “No thanks.” She then instead offers a high 5, knuckle bump, or a premade card, she is polite and assertive, and can even say, “It’s great to see you”. But she gets to decide if she wants to hug, kiss or touch Uncle Joe because YOU the parent have sat down with her and explained that her body belongs to her and she is in charge of who touches her and who she DECIDES to touch. You have just empowered her! You have just taught her about personal boundaries. Imagine having this ongoing conversation from age 3 – this skill you have taught your child will be a gift for his/her lifetime.
Why? Children who have a strong sense of self, and have been empowered with personal safety education will not be as vulnerable to a predator in their midst. Giving a child the opportunity to REHEARSE this subliminal yet empowering experience, and to choose when and with whom to share their physical affections with their parents support, sends a strong and important lifelong message to the child. Parents need to tell their children, “You do not have to be blindly obedient just because an adult tells you to do something.”
A child who feels empowered about their body boundaries will become a “hard” target for someone wanting to harm him or her! A gift all parents should give their children. Our new children’s book, "My Body is Special and Belongs to ME!" empowers children. The beautiful illustrations were done by a 15-year-old artist, the daughter of two police officers. The message the book has to offer uses fun not fear, to teach children that their bodies are special and belong only to them. We also added an extensive parent section so you can feel comfortable continuing the learning. To get your book now and give the gift for a lifetime: www.kidsafefoundation.org/products
All the proceeds from our book go directly to our 501c3 nonprofit to bring prevention education programs and materials to children, parents and teachers.