A lot of talk surrounding this subject online and in the media at the moment and I have to say that some of the responses have shocked me.
The lovely Jane Evans has received a lot of hate online for saying that children should NOT be forced to hug and kiss family and friends on ‘Good morning Britain’. What shocks me the most is that so many people would dismiss the evidence and science of child development in order to keep their “It never did me any harm” mentality.
Firstly, I’m so glad that it never did those people any harm and secondly, unfortunately it has harmed many, many others.
This is not us saying “don’t hug your children” it is a scientific fact that we need connection in order to thrive and our brain quite simply doesn’t develop the same without it. It’s about being wise, being smart and understanding that the behaviour we teach our children from birth has a long-term impact and helps them to develop vital skills that can help keep them safe.
Talk to your children about how they can express themselves when they feel happy and loved by sharing cuddles and kisses but also teach them that if they feel uncomfortable at sharing those hugs and kisses with someone that is ABSOLUTELY FINE. Teach them to recognise their emotions and fears and let them know that it is correct to respond to them.
Christmas is coming up and gifts will be shared, do not make your child offer physical contact as a way of thanks. Insist they say thank you and let them choose how they wish to express that thanks. This is one of the most important things we can teach our children to help protect them from abuse; you’re teaching them that they are in control of their bodies and they do not have to give themselves physically if it doesn’t feel comfortable or right in any way. You are teaching them consent.
So, don’t dismiss all this as political correctness gone mad. It’s not.
Something MUST change, the historic cases of child abuse that are reported every year is evidence in itself that we must change, but now, the science is there to tell us how. Let’s listen to it.
And say ‘Thank you’.
Jennifer Wyman is founder of Bridge the Gap and is an Emotional Literacy trainer. Jennifer is married with 2 children and has over 21 years of experience working within child development and early years.