By Melissa Carnagey, LSBW
🤚🏾 Address the issue with the violator
Don’t assume a person knows better. Speaking up can sound like, “Julie said no. She doesn’t want a hug and we are making sure her boundaries are respected” or “Tickling isn’t fun if it’s not fun for everyone. Jay is asking you to stop. No more tickles.” If the violator is acting from entitlement and disrespect, see the below steps. Confrontations can be difficult, but due diligence means we speak up and advocate on behalf of our children.
If a violator is not respecting a boundary, create space. This can mean not engaging with them further, not attending the same events or disconnecting from them on social media. Don’t hesitate to make it clear to your child or others the reasons why. Often people keep quiet, which doesn’t give all involved clear context to the true issue and consequences. Also keep in mind that violators often violate others. Your actions could be a helpful example to other victims.
💡Remember what’s in your control
Another’s actions, words, personality, body, and perspectives are not in your control. Set the boundary and don’t waste time trying to change a violator or any critics of your decision to nurture your child’s body autonomy. Use your energy wisely.
🙅🏽♀️Model healthy boundaries
Be in the habit of prioritizing your boundaries (especially with your kids), listening to and honoring your body, and respecting the boundaries of others. Don’t just talk about it, be about it.
🗣Speak openly with your child
The most ineffective thing a parent can do is avoid the issue. Prepare your child for boundary setting and challenging dynamics by talking before, during and after situations. Discuss the many ways greetings and affection can be approached. Talk about unsafe touch. Pay attention to how your child feels and acts in the presence of others. Don’t dismiss what you observe or what they express. This is the time they are developing their instincts, and you want them to grow to trust them, so you have to as well. Develop the kind of bond that leads to responsive action.
About the Author:
Melissa is a sex educator and licensed social worker with over 10 years' experience in the field of sexual health. She has worked in non-profit, state government and classroom settings focused on improving health outcomes for diverse populations. Melissa founded Sex Positive Families in June 2017 with a passion for creating safe, shame-free spaces for comprehensive and pleasure-positive sexual health education for all ages. For more related information visit her website Sex Positive Families or follow them on Instagram.