(NEWS CENTER) — Many of us spend the holiday season with loved ones, some of whom we haven't seen in a while; which is why the Girl Scouts of America is reminding parents to not force their children to hug relatives if they don't want to.
"Have you ever insisted, “Uncle just got here—go give him a big hug!” or “Auntie gave you that nice toy, go give her a kiss,” when you were worried your child might not offer affection on her own? If yes, you might want to reconsider the urge to do that in the future." the organization said in a blog post.
The organization's psychologist, Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, stated it is a lesson girls to learn about setting physical boundaries while they are young and one that will last a lifetime. She said it also can influence how a woman feels about themselves and her body as she gets older.
"Plus, sadly, we know that some adults prey on children," Dr. Archibald said. "Teaching your daughter about consent early on can help her understand her rights, know when lines are being crossed, and when to go to you for help.”
Samantha Lott Hale is the Program Manager for the Girl Scouts of America in Bangor, she says the blog post is meant to be more empowering than anything else. "It's really about the whole big picture," Lott Hale said "To be comfortable with themselves and comfortable with telling people what's ok with them and what's not."
It also stated this is not something to teach your children to be rude or disrespectful, but instead to teach them about consent. They argue forcing them to hug people they don't want to could impact their judgment down the road about their right to consent. Instead, you should allow your child to express affection in a way that works for them.
"Saying how much she’s missed someone or thank you with a smile, a high-five, or even an air kiss are all ways she can express herself," the organization's reminder said. "It’s important that she knows she gets to choose which feels most comfortable to her." the blog went on to say.
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