Empowering children, especially girls, to set their own physical boundaries from a young age is usually an overlooked life-lesson, but can be a very important one.
It’s never too early to teach your kids about the value of setting physical boundaries, consent, and the importance of not tailoring their feelings to suit others – the impacts of these lessons can last a lifetime.
By allowing children to decide whether they want to greet someone with a hug, a kiss, a handshake, or just verbally, we can teach them about consent and bodily autonomy from a very young age.
Making your child submit to unwanted affection to avoid offending a relative or hurting someone’s feelings enforces the idea that their bodies don’t really belong to them, and makes them ignore their own feelings.
This doesn’t mean giving your child the green light to be rude or dismissive to relatives and friends – simply that if they feel uncomfortable or uncertain being physically affectionate, they should not feel obliged to do so.