Child Autonomy: A Good Rule of Thumb

By Asta Rudzinskaite 

Isn’t it funny how some things might seem so obvious to us, and yet it appears that someone else simply cannot get their head around it? No, it’s not always funny. Sometimes it’s actually infuriating. That’s why I would like to emphasize a general rule that may be new to some people – it is the idea that kids really really are equally deserving of respect as any adult would be.

I am not here to tell other parents how to raise their children, but perhaps I could share a few reminders to everyone interacting with children who are not their own. Please know that being a neighbour or a passer-by who interacts with a child a few times per year does not qualify you as being in a close relationship, and that the following is NOT an appropriate nor respectful behaviour towards a child:

  • Touching a child’s face (do you let strangers on the metro touch your “cute nose” or “chubby cheeks”?).
  • Forcing a kiss or a hug when the child’s body language clearly shows tension and refusal (if you so badly need a hug, find a tree!).
  • Lifting up their ballerina skirt and commenting about how it is “so adorable that the chunky thighs are touching” (I can’t believe I just typed this).
  • Grabbing the toy a child is holding or insisting that they give it to you (I’d love to see how you would deal with a stranger on the street trying to get the iPhone out of your hands).
  • Lifting them off the ground – especially from behind – without asking if they want to be lifted or even as much as a warning (yes, you would scream too!).

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