Girl Scouts is reminding parents not to force their young girls to hug guests during the holidays.
The organization says hugs that aren’t the child’s idea can give them the wrong idea about “consent and physical affection.”
“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 Girl Scouts organization said on their website.
The organization said telling a child that she owes someone a hug because she hasn’t seen the person in a while or because they gave her a gift can cause her to question whether she “owes” another person any type of physical affection when they’ve bought her dinner or done something else seemingly nice for her later in life.
“The notion of consent may seem very grown-up and like something that doesn’t pertain to children,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald, “but the lessons girls learn when they’re young about setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected last a lifetime, and can influence how she feels about herself and her body as she gets older., according to the blog.
Plus, sadly, we know that some adults prey on children, and 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.”
To learn more, visit the Girl Scouts website.