At the point when the Girl Scouts put out a pre-occasion suggestion to guardians that their little girls don’t owe anybody an embrace, even at the occasions, it was taken as an indication of the (dreary) times. “When issues of lewd behavior and assent are in the news,” started the CNN story on the piece. Responses on Twitter made the association, as well:(preschool in 11374)

In any case, it hasn’t simply “resulted in these present circumstances.” It’s been this for quite a while—the exhortation and the issue it addresses are just the same old thing new. All the more essentially, this guidance isn’t a response to the news. It’s tied in with showing kids the significance of assent and engaging them to talk up for their own particular needs and wants, which are evergreen lessons.(preschool in 11374)

The Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald said, in the Girl Scouts’ post, “the lessons girls learn when they’re young about setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected last a lifetime.” This applies to kids of all genders. It lays the groundwork for a strong understanding of consent, and can influence a kid’s relationship with her body—by telling her that she’s in control of who she hugs, you’re also telling her that her body is hers, not for serving other people’s feelings. That has to do with consent, but also body image, too.

Enforcing your child’s bodily autonomy isn’t just an investment in her future strength and safety. Dr. Archibald adds, “sadly, we know that some adults prey on children, and teaching your daughter about consent early on can help her understand her rights, know when lines are being crossed, and when to go to you for help.” (Again, this applies to children of all genders.) Reminding your child that she has the power to say “no” to physical contact, even from a beloved relative, is hugely important.(preschool in 11374)

Contrarian reactions to this kind of advice (which I won’t link to because anti-consent messaging is harmful bullshit) fall back on the idea that parents need to teach their children good manners, and that kids need to listen to their parents. But no one is saying you can’t tell your child, “Go say hi to Grandpa” or “Thank your aunt for her gift.” Physical intimacy isn’t the only way adults show love and gratitude to other adults, after all!

There are plenty of alternatives. Maybe your kid is more comfortable with high fives than hugs—there you go! You can always ask your child, “Do you want to hug Grandma?” This may require dealing with Grandma’s disappointment, but you can always just send her this article. A CNN article from 2015 offers the parental line, “I would like you to hug Grandma, but I won’t make you do it.” (That article’s title, “I Don’t Own My Child’s Body,” is also a good reminder.)

There’s a line between polite social interaction and physical contact, and that’s an important lesson to teach early and often. The holidays are the perfect chance.

(preschool in 11374)

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