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?