Hugging your kids is one of the great joys of being a parent. It’s a natural instinct when they’re hurt, upset, or when you’re really proud of them. But we all know that there are times when kids might not always want a hug. There are many advantages to teaching your kids about setting their own boundaries when they don’t want to be touched. When kids learn about body autonomy from a young age, they can feel more confident, protected, and secure.
What is body autonomy? 🫂
“My body is mine.” It’s the idea that your child can (and should) set their own boundaries. It’s okay to say “no” when they are uncomfortable or simply not in the mood for physical affection.
While sometimes your child will love hugs and snuggles, sometimes they won’t. Teaching them how to express themselves will support them down the line. It can also help avoid stressful situations with others at school, family gatherings, social events, etc.
Teaching children about body autonomy is important on so many different levels. Learning early on about setting boundaries helps kids develop their emotional skills and supports their self-confidence as they grow up.
Phrases that teach body autonomy boundaries
1. “If you don’t want to, that’s okay.”
Using big words like consent or autonomy may be too complicated for children and can end up confusing them more. Instead, it can be helpful to use words like “body,” “space,” and “choice.”
2. “I don’t want to be hugged right now, but we can do a high five.”
Teaching your kid some simple phrases to say when they want to turn down physical touch is a great way for them to learn how to say “no.”
3. “Would you like a hug?”
Asking kids if they want to be hugged each time shows them that it’s always their decision and that it’s okay to say “no” when it comes to their body boundaries, even to adults.
4. “Can I push you on the swing?”
Teach kids to ask other children their age if it’s okay to touch them. This shows children that they have to respect other people’s decisions about their bodies as well.
5. “I don’t want a hug today.”
Explain to kids that just because they’ve agreed to hug someone before, doesn’t mean they have to again. They can change their mind at any time!
Talking to your child about their body autonomy will help create a safe space where they feel they can tell you if they are uncomfortable.
Setting boundaries and Lingokids
Caregivers, do you have any more tips to help your child set their own boundaries? Let us know by commenting below!