The explorative nature of a child is one of the most exciting yet challenging things a parent has to deal with when bringing up a child. It gets harder when your child becomes touchy with other kids. It could be with friendly hugs or cheeky..
The explorative nature of a child is one of the most exciting yet challenging things a parent has to deal with when bringing up a child. It gets harder when your child becomes touchy with other kids. It could be with friendly hugs or cheeky pokes to start a game with another kid, but whatever the case, you should know what to do when your child touches another kid.
The situation can be quite tricky if your child doesn’t understand personal space and its importance. Therefore, as a parent, it’s crucial to teach your child the concept around personal space as early as possible and ensure they understand how it’s a way of respecting others.
In this article, we’ll discuss social boundaries, how to differentiate normal child behavior and inappropriate touches, and what to do when your child touches another kid.
Understanding Age-Appropriate Behavior
Children begin to learn the sense of touch right from their first days of life and continue to develop it as they grow. Therefore, appropriate touching behavior among kids varies depending on their age.
For example, toddlers between ages 1-3 know almost nothing about physical contact and personal boundaries. As a parent, this is the best age to encourage social interactions when your child touches another kid through gentle physical touches like hugging and holding hands.
Preschoolers between ages 3-5 are more aware of social interactions through physical contact but you must emphasize the importance of personal space. Also, teach your child that there are parts of the body that are private and should not be seen or touched by other people.
For children between ages 6-12, you should continue to emphasize the need for consent before touching another kid as a way of respecting their personal space. It’s okay if your child doesn’t want any kind of physical contact with other people.
As your child develops into a teen and begins to notice changes in their body, they begin to ask questions that involve their sexual feelings. It’s crucial that you encourage open talks with your child on this topic and let them know what is appropriate and what is not.
Children feel safe when they get support from the people close to them. Therefore, you can maintain a regular pattern of checking up on them and pointing them in the right direction, especially when you suspect inappropriate behavior.
The Importance of Personal Boundaries
Personal boundaries go beyond physical contact. They also include emotional and psychological boundaries that a person establishes as a way of protecting their overall well-being.
Remember that your child is a fully-functional human being and should begin to understand personal boundaries as early as possible. Here are some reasons why this is important:
- When your child understands appropriate and inappropriate touches they will know when to say no when touched inappropriately.
- They learn the importance of consent before letting anyone touch them or before touching another kid.
- Your child develops effective communication skills such that they are able to express their comfort and discomfort levels whenever they find themselves in any situation that would require them to speak out.
- Your child gains control over their body and feelings, empowering them against bullying and harassment from other kids.
Children learn in many ways. Therefore, if your child has yet to learn about navigating social boundaries, and in what ways it’s appropriate to touch another kid you can employ a few strategies to get them on the right track. For example, you can let them learn from you through visual aids and role-playing. Engage them in conversations that trigger curiosity in that direction.
Secondly, ensure that you respect their boundaries and let them know that their personal space is important. This means you shouldn’t force them to hug or kiss you if it makes them uncomfortable.
Recognize When Your Child Encounters Unwanted Touches
Some children freely express their discomfort when touched inappropriately. But for those who remain quiet, it’s your duty as a parent to recognize the signs of unwanted touch and respond immediately. Helping your child understand boundaries and how to protect their own will help them respect and understand the boundaries of others as well.
These signs include the following:
- Your child appears uncomfortable when another kid touches them. They may try to move away, fight back, or become tensed up when they experience an unwanted touch.
- Your child may express defensive words like “No” or “Stop” when another child is touching them. That shows they don’t want to be touched in that manner or on that body part.
- If your child has ever experienced an unwanted touch from someone or another kid, you may notice that they try to avoid that person as much as possible.
- An unwanted touch can trigger extreme reactions in a child to the extent that their behavior changes suddenly. For example, if they were always bubbly and playful, they may become quiet and withdrawn after an inappropriate touch.
If inappropriate touching is left to continue for a while, the child may be affected for the rest of their life. Therefore, any sign of inappropriate touching must be addressed immediately.
What to Do When Your Child Touches Another Child
Depending on your child’s age, it’s easy for you as a parent to know what is appropriate and what is not. Therefore, if you notice any behavior that you deem inappropriate, it’s your responsibility to act immediately to stop it and whenever possible turn it into a teachable moment.
Some actions you can take include:
- Separating the children, especially if the interaction is aggressive and causing physical harm.
- Talking to your child about their inappropriate behavior in a bid to correct it so that it doesn’t happen again. Ensure that you emphasize the importance of empathy and consideration of other people’s feelings.
- When the behavior has been persistent for a while, ensure that you address it in an appropriate manner including the use of punishment, talking, reading books about boundaries and other modes of corrections.
- Provide alternative reactions when playing with other children and encourage more positive physical interactions with other children. Such reactions include consensual touches such as high-fives, hugs, and handshakes where other parties are comfortable.
- If the behavior is getting out of hand, it may be time to seek help from a child psychologist or a counselor. Such a professional understands most behavior patterns among children and may help you navigate easily through them.
- Some unwanted touches like sexual harassment may require you to report the incident to the authorities so that it’s addressed appropriately.
Remember that not all signs of unwanted touches may indicate that your child is touching another kid inappropriately. Therefore, take time to understand what is going on and then solve it accordingly.
A child’s development is incomplete without the social aspect of it. Therefore, teaching your child how to navigate social boundaries and handle physical interactions is a key part of their development.
Remember that your primary responsibility as a parent or guardian is to ensure that your child’s well-being is protected and respected. Since you will not always be by their side, it’s crucial to teach your child about their boundaries and respect them early enough so that they can interact better with people.