Body autonomy

As Elsa turns eight this week, I have become increasingly aware that she is growing up fast (stating the obvious I know but I’m a bit dim at times.)




I wanted to know your views on something because I’m aware that I sometimes take things too seriously and go a bit mumma lioness on a situation, defending my girls to the death.


So say a family member wanted to give your son/daughter a kiss and a hug but they didn’t want to for one reason or another (they’re upset with them, they are shy, they don’t know them well, etc.) what do you do? Do you make them hug them anyway to save embarrassment OR do you respect their decision and say something like “ahh maybe next time?”

Elsa was forced into a hug/kiss at the weekend and it has bothered me massively, especially as I wasn’t there at her defence to kick their arse on her behalf. She was incredibly upset at the time and this embrace just made matters even worse; how dare someone consider her desire for personal space unimportant. Now, am I being all Mother Earth hippy here by saying that at any age but especially by the age of eight, you are able to decide what happens to your body and when?


I have been teaching Elsa a lot about body autonomy and ownership and I know they have discussed the basics of personal space at school – she talked this week about learning not to burst someone’s bubble by standing too near them which I thought was a pretty sweet analogy.


This is what Elsa and I have discussed at home over the last few weeks:

  • It’s a great responsibility to own a body and you therefore have to feed it the best fuel, keep it healthy with exercise and clean it regularly so it works to its best ability.
  • We mentioned how much self-worth you can have just by being proud of what your body is capable of so for example, Elsa’s body is able to play the flute and participate in some pretty awesome gymnastics moves. She is also able to run really fast, jump and crawl. Her body is also able to rest and enable her to relax and feel at ease (these were Elsa’s suggestions.)
  • Autonomy. Elsa is learning that she has autonomy over her body so ultimately it is up to her what her body does and how well it functions. I feel so proud watching her grow into a young lady, owning her space and being entirely in control of her future life so I want her to realise that this also relays identically with her body and personal space. Only SHE has control.
  • We discussed that along with this autonomy, she can decide who gets near enough for a hug and who doesn’t. If she doesn’t feel comfortable with someone or just doesn’t want a hug then she can say NO and they then have no right to touch her. She doesn’t have to justify that no, it’s just a no.


It’s scary trying to guide your child as they get older. What have you talked about in terms of personal space?


A x

Diary of an imperfect mum




Diary of An Imperfect Mum

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  • Caroline Scott on

    I’m with you on the hug, if they don’t want one they shouldn’t be made to. And let’s be honest, children are often riddled with snot and lurgies that, as an adult, I don’t particularly want to give them a kiss anyway.
    In fact kisses as a greeting are over rated, I always step on people’s feet, bang noses etc , and now with the THREE KISSES! it’s going too far, a simple handshake is enough. Saying that, I do attack my children with kisses at times, is this bad? They protest with giggles.

    • admin on

      Hahaha no that’s not bad at all! Three kisses? Wow, I haven’t had to do that. Not sure I could cope with that much contact being the ice queen I apparently am! A xx

  • Twin Pickle on

    My daughter is six and this is definitely on my radar, along talking to her about body parts and an ‘introduction’ to sex stuff… eeek. I don’t even know where to start!! #prettyraw

    • admin on

      I read a wonderful book with my daughter when she was about 6 as I was pregnant and all the predictable questions arose. It’s called “It’s not the stork.” Very basic but well written and factual in a non-judgmental way. A x

      • Twin Pickle on

        Thanks for the recommendation!

  • RawChildhood on

    I am with you 100% on this. If my boys don’t want to hug and kiss people then that is their decision.. I just make sure they know that the person only wanted a cuddle to show affection but they arent made to do things that they dont want to do. Very good post and I enjoyed reading it 🙂 #prettyraw

  • Beth on

    I’m totally with you – and would have been livid! I’ve been talking about this with my 8 year old a lot – both in terms of his autonomy and other people’s. It’s really helping that his toddler sister has just learnt to say no!


  • twotinyhands on

    Oh I love the bubble analogy completely, used to use this all the time with my very huggy brownies!! I definitely don’t think you should be hugged if you don’t want to, people should respect that. Thanks for linking up to #familyfun

  • tammymum on

    Oh I love this post and the whole idea of our own autonomy. It’s so important to teach our little ones the things you have mentioned. I totally agree that whatever age it’s your choice to choose who you do and not hug. Thanks for sharing at #familyfun xx

  • Jakijellz on

    Even at almost 4 – if my little man doesn’t want to hug or kiss I don’t make him. If he’s not comfortable with it, neither am I. It’s his choice. I don’t want him to be forced into doing anything he’s not happy with. Good post for discussion. #familyfun

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