No Means No: Respecting Children’s Body Boundaries

Months before I got pregnant, I read an article about respecting children’s body boundaries. The concept had never occurred to me. What child refuses to give Grandma hugs? What parent doesn’t say, “Go give Auntie Anna a kiss. You don’t want to hurt her feelings, do you?” I was taught that greeting family members and friends with physical affection is a sign of love and respect.

Now that Baby Bird’s here, that policy is out the window.

My daughter doesn’t have to hug or kiss anyone because I tell her to — and that includes her father and me. Her body is hers, and the earlier she learns that she has control over it, the better.

She doesn’t owe anyone access into her space.

Admittedly, I haven’t been the best at enforcing my own rule. I’ll catch myself telling her, “Give Granddad a kiss,” instead of asking her whether she wants to. But I’ll have it together by the time she’s old enough to understand what I’m teaching her.

I know it’s hard not to love on cute kids, and I expect to get some pushback from family members. After all, they’re accustomed to giving kisses when they want and getting hugs on demand. I’m expecting someone to tell me my child’s refusal is rude, and that I need to get her in line.

And intend to shut them down immediately.

I’ll teach my baby to be polite if she doesn’t want to give or get a hug or kiss. She’ll know to say no, thank you” to unwanted affection, and to offer hellos and goodbyes. If she feels up to it, she might give high-fives (she’s gotten really good at them.) If that’s all she’s willing to do, Relative X and Friend Y will have to deal.

Heaven help the man, woman, or child who puts an uninvited hand (or kiss) on my Baby Bird. Hell hath no fury like a pissed-off mama.

Respecting Children's Body Boundaries


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