Teaching Kids Consent Could Start By Stopping Forced Hugs

Teaching Kids Consent Could Start By Stopping Forced Hugs
Girl Scouts is one organization that is warning against forcing kids to give hugs over the holidays.

If you grew up like me, when adult relatives were around I was expected to hug them — especially during the holidays.

For grandparents or aunts and uncles, it makes sense why that type of affection would make them feel valued. But allowing kids to choose if they want to hug or kiss a relative could be an opportunity to teach consent. 

This is an idea Girl Scouts recently got attention for in its warning about forced hugs. 

The company's developmental psychologist said, "The lessons girls learn when they're young about setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected last a lifetime."

The Girl Scouts piece is pretty explicit: Girls don't owe others physical affection. It's a mindset that could have implications later on in life — like if someone buys another person dinner or gives them a gift. 

Of course, it's not a lesson that's only worth teaching to girls; it's for all kids. Other organizations — like the American Academy of Pediatrics — have similar advice. Its website says it's important for kids to understand when touching is appropriate or not, and forced affection can blur those lines and make it confusing for kids. 

This is only a starting point for teaching kids consent. Teaching kids to respect others is also important as they grow up.