Child Autonomy: A Good Rule of Thumb

  • Wiping a child’s nose without asking first (I would suggest that perhaps parents can be left to deal with that – I’ve written more on snotty matters here).
  • Making up nonsense to “correct” a child’s behaviour – e.g. “Don’t put the fingers in your mouth or your teeth will fall out.” (Actual quote)
  • Trying to convince a child that they are being unreasonably scared of your dog (have you seen what your dog actually looks like to someone who is under a meter high?).
  • Speaking about the child in front of them as if they are not there – e.g. “She’s a bit fussy today, no?” (They can hear you and will ask their parents about what “fussy” means when you leave)
  • Making “funny” threats about how you are about to steal the child’s snack from them (the image of that happening on the metro between strangers is actually quite funny, but – no).
  • Insisting on getting a child to interact with you when they have their face buried in their parent’s chest or legs (it is a clear gesture they don’t even want to see you, let alone answer your questions).

Maybe it gets a bit confusing because children are so small and cute, and the temptation to get near their delightful energy is just too much to resist. But I would say a good rule of thumb is – if you wouldn’t do something to a teenager or an adult that you are not very very close with, just don’t do it to a baby or a kid. Because really – where do you draw the line? And with the rest of it, when in doubt – ask for permission first and pause to hear, see or sense the answer.


Asta Rudzinskaite is a mom and blogger from Lithuania, now living in Spain with her husband and daughter. Before the birth of her daughter, she studied and worked in the field of international development, but has since been promoted to being a full-time mom. She shares her reflections on gentle parenting and life with a touch of magic in her blog Wildish WonderFacebook page and Instagram

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