Girl Scouts: Don't force your children to hug family and friends - FOX Carolina 21

Girl Scouts: Don't force your children to hug family and friends

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Woman and young girl (Source: GraphicStock) Woman and young girl (Source: GraphicStock)

In tips for raising a happy child on their website, the Girl Scouts of America said family holidays may be "a time when your daughter gets the wrong idea about consent and physical affection."

The organization said children are taught lessons about physical boundaries at a very early age and could make them vulnerable to child predators.

“The notion of consent may seem very grown-up and like something that doesn’t pertain to children but the lessons girls learn when they’re young about setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected last a lifetime,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald. "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.”

The post urges parents to reconsider telling their children to go give relatives a hug or kiss. Below is an excerpt:

Think of it this way, telling your child that she owes someone a hug either just because she hasn’t seen this person in a while or because they gave her a gift can set the stage for her questioning 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.

Read the full statement here.

We spoke to some Upstate child experts, who told us physical boundaries and consent should be topics parents talk with their children about at a young age, and year round.  Shauna Galloway-Williams is the Executive Director of the Julie Valentine Center in Greenville.  She said talking about these issues around the holidays is timely.  "Often times parents feel pressure to force their children, or push their children to hug or kiss or cuddle with family members as a sign of love and affection without thinking about the personal safety or boundaries that might be violating for children."

Dr. Brittany Rudy is a licensed clinical psychologist at Synergy Psych in Greenville. She said it's good to give your children options for saying hello besides just hugs and kisses, and she recommends practicing before seeing relatives and friends.  "We also need to tell them what is good and appropriate, to smile, to wave, to say hi.  Practicing it in advance to let them know what to expect and make them less wary as well."

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