4 Things We Need To Stop Doing To Kids Immediately

By Jacque Gorelick

Today I’ve got my soapbox out. As my little humans begin to navigate the world and their place in it, I want them to feel empowered and confident in the people they’re becoming. For this to happen, adults (myself included) need to step up our game.

So, megaphone in hand, I’m going to make a bold request to Please (note the capital P) stop doing the following to kids:

  1. Making Them Give Hugs

Forcing kids to hug others makes understanding consent difficult. How can we expect children to respect other people’s personal space, desires to be left untouched, and right to say no, if we don’t give them the same respect?!

I get it. My kids are cute. Their floppy brown tresses, beg to be patted. But please don’t make it a requirement for them to hug or kiss you. If they want to hug you, they will. Their job is not to fill someone else’s need for affection. Making eye contact, holding polite conversation, answering your questions about their lives, interests, and hobbies ― yes, all yes!

Crossing a personal space threshold that they don’t feel comfortable crossing ― No, no, no!

If kids don’t want a hug, you can ask for a handshake, high-five, or fist bump. Still feeling rejected? Cheer up! You’ve empowered a young person to set boundaries for their bodies so they’ll in turn respect the boundaries of others.

  1. Sexualizing Them

Sounds like a no-brainer, but kids are overtly sexualized all the time. By the media, and tiny-strappy-clothes on racks at stores, even by the toy aisles of favorite stores.

I’m referring to the subtle comments and assumptions adults make, pushing our kids into sexually charged roles unnecessarily. Like if my 4-year-old boy is playing with a girl at the park, DON’T call her his girlfriend. And DON’T say to my 10-year-old, “He’s so handsome he’s going to have girls knocking down his door one day.” (Honestly, that probably definitely scares the sh*t out of him.)

And DON’T assume my kid will get married (to a girl, or a boy, or at all)! Don’t say things that starts with, “When you’re married…” or “We’ll save that story for your wedding.” My kids don’t need to consider matrimony the Holy Grail of adulthood. It’s a choice and an option, but not a requirement for happiness. Productive, fulfilled adults abound who are not married, coupled up, or even parents.

Kids shouldn’t worry that talking to a girl or boy (who happens to be a friend), will elicit remarks about the underlying sexual nature of said conversation like, “Oh she’s cute!” or “I think he likes you.”

Let them be kids for as long as they can; this time is fleeting.

I can assure you; my kid isn’t thinking about that. He’s thinking about his baseball game, or his cat, or daydreaming of a world full of dragons, wizards, and pirate treasure. So please, don’t take it upon yourself to encroach on his little boy thoughts with your comments about adult concepts like girlfriends, boyfriends, marriage and all the girls who will be dripping off of him in the future. (Because Ewww!)

Let them be kids for as long as they can; this time is fleeting.

1 Comment

  • Just had to share this. You’re talking about things we consider natural and harmless. Most times they might be, but I have a particular peeve about hugs or any kind of physical contact that a child is obviously not comfortable with… even with relatives or close family members.

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