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  • Writer's pictureSavaCenterGA

Holidays and body safety

The holiday season brings lots of gatherings with family that you might not get to see the entire year, and that your kids may not be familiar with. You see relatives who will delight over how grown your kids have gotten and want to hug and kiss them, but how do you handle things when your kids are hesitant or don’t want to do so?

According to an article by Kathy Miller, MA LCPC, a therapist in Annapolis, using the holiday season to teach your kids about consent and body autonomy is a good idea.

Consent is at the foundation of all healthy relationships, and experts believe that it’s also a fundamental lesson that can help prevent sexual abuse and sexual assault. There is a difference on how this concept is taught to different ages. Teens need to learn lessons about consent as it relates to romance and sex, but just like kids of all ages they also need to learn about consent as it relates to bodily autonomy, the act of having control over what happens to your physical being, as defined by Kathy Miller.

Experts recommend giving your kids a sense of control over their bodies, this includes setting limits for expressions of affection and touching. If smaller kids are forced to hug “Aunt Jane” because she is old, parents are overriding a child’s comfort zone and sends the wrong message to them. This could lead to your child being easily coerced to hug and kiss other people that you might not feel comfortable with them doing so. Therapist, Kathy Miller, explains that in general kids do not differentiate between discomfort with a friend or family member giving them unwanted physical touch, or someone outside the family. Therefore, she advices to not push unwanted contact with any person, and rather encourage them to do a high five or fist bump if they prefer. She also advises to explain to family members the rules you have in your family about consent so that they don’t see it as rude behavior.  Giving your children an alternative to something they may feel uncomfortable with is a good way to teach consent. If you would like some more resources on how to teach consent feel free to reach out to the Sexual Assault Victim’s Advocacy Center at (706)861-0929 or (706)419-8775.

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