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Help! Extremely worried. I can't make DD understand about her rights over her body.

(35 Posts)
BeCarefulWithThat Sun 16-Aug-15 08:52:38

DD is 6 almost 7. We have had very simple conversations in the past about saying no to anyone who tries to touch her where they shouldn't or to make her touch them. I thought she understood, but an incident this morning has left me very very worried.

DD wanted her toddler sister to give her a cuddle but toddler wasn't having any of it. DD got really angry with her sister and tried to punish her by removing her toy.

I took DD into another room and we had a big cuddle. I explained that if anyone didn't want a cuddle they can say no, including toddler sister and including DD. She said she would never say no to anyone who wanted to cuddle her. I said that it included any kind of touching of the body and that she can and should say no to anyone who wants to touch her in a way she doesn't want. I said that everyone has the right to not be touched if they don't want to be touched and that although DD deserved a cuddle, her sister's right to say she didn't want to cuddle was more important. DD said that "it's only touching bodies, it's not important" and told me I don't know everything (ie my opinion isn't the only one) and most worryingly, she said "I would always let anyone do anything they wanted because I like to be kind and make people happy."

The more I tried to make her understand how important this is the more she argued against me.

I need help! How do I explain this so she understands? Do I need to be more explicit? She is so young and innocent still (even for her age) and I don't know how to pitch it appropriately without scaring her witless. But clearly, what worked when she was 4 is no longer working.

I really need your advice.

SlayZ Sun 16-Aug-15 08:56:11

What you're telling her is great. The issue I see is that her innocent mind doesn't grasp what you're trying to say. She doesn't realise that some touching is inappropriate and I assume she hasn't been in the situation of a peadophile trying to groom/touch her so she's only thinking of friends/family and of course as a cuddly 6 yr old, she would let them touch her.

I hope I've explained that well enough.

Finola1step Sun 16-Aug-15 08:56:48

It sounds like you are having the right conversation but perhaps at the wrong time. If your DD was upset because her sister wouldn't give her a cuddle then she will probably insist until she's blue in the face that cuddles should be given at all times.

Talk to her again in a day or two when she hasn't just been upset.

TheoriginalLEM Sun 16-Aug-15 08:56:54

you are going to scare your dd. are there people in her life likely to touch her inappropriately? i think u are making too much of this.

LIZS Sun 16-Aug-15 08:59:19

Sorry but unless she has other cognitive difficulties I think you are projecting concerns onto her. Yes she needs to learn to respect personal space and boundaries but you are asking too much for her to "assert her rights". You can role play so that she can learn what is appropriate over time. She likes cuddles , make the most of it while you can.

catzpyjamas Sun 16-Aug-15 09:08:43

It's so hard when you want to protect them but don't want them to lose their innocent view of the world entirely. You sound like you're saying exactly what I would.
Is it really about the cuddle though or her authority over her younger sister?
I taught DD (then 5) the swimsuit rule - no one else should see or touch any part of you covered in a swimsuit except doctors etc
I have told her that some people love hugs and some don't. She should ask if a friend wants a hug first and not do it if they say no.
There's good advice here about keeping children safe:

Toffeewhirl Sun 16-Aug-15 09:09:45

I agree with Finola. I think you're doing the right thing, but expecting too much, too soon from your DD. Children only get this idea gradually because, of course, they usually only get cuddles from people they like, so can't comprehend any different.

I had a similar incident with my DS2 (9) recently. I was a little concerned that when he visits his grandma in her sheltered housing complex, she encourages him to hug and kiss several of her elderly friends "because they don't have their own grandchildren to visit". I told DS2 that this was lovely if he wanted to cuddle them, but that he didn't have to if he didn't want to and it was fine to say no. He protested, "But I like kissing people and would never say no to anyone who wants to kiss me!"

I was horrified by his response and took some time telling him how important it is for him to know that his body belongs to him and he is under no obligation to hug or kiss anyone he doesn't want to. He still said he didn't mind kissing anyone shock. He is a lovely, affectionate boy and has never known anything but kindness, so he doesn't know any different.

I'm just going to continue reiterating my message at appropriate moments and trust that he will get it eventually.

BeCarefulWithThat Sun 16-Aug-15 09:17:33

I have no idea if there are people in her life who would touch her inappropriately. There most probably aren't. I cant see into people's minds and she does have a life away from me - at school, on play dates etc. She is exposed to people I don't know and even the people I do know and trust can't really be known iyswim. Believe me, I do not have a 'paedophile on every corner' mentality - I believe most people are well meaning. But stuff does happen - I experienced inappropriate touching as a child myself. My parents had no clue.

But I thought this was exactly why we are supposed to have these conversations - so that children have a hope in hell of knowing how to act in the unlikely event that someone does try something.

PenelopePitstops Sun 16-Aug-15 09:29:34

She's 6. She doesn't and can't comprehend why what you are saying is so important.

Don't make it into an argument, just consistently drip feed it to her.

quietlysuggests Sun 16-Aug-15 09:33:00

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BeCarefulWithThat Sun 16-Aug-15 09:42:35

stop the play dates with people you don't know

Really? So should she not be going to her school friends' houses at all? Should I not invite them here either? How do you define people you don't know? Do other people not allow their 6/7 year olds to go on play dates with school friends?

BertrandRussell Sun 16-Aug-15 09:50:56

Of course she's going to say that when she wanted a cuddle from her sister, and her sister didn't want to! You probably should have said "Jane doesn't want a cuddle at the moment and that's fine. Everybody has the right to say whether they want a cuddle or not. Shall we do this jigsaw?"

Watch for an opportunity to say it the other way round- if little sister wants to hold her hand or sit on her lap or something and she doesn't.

I wouldn't worry about it- you had the conversation at the wrong time, that's all.

And of course she can go on play dates and have friends home.

BertrandRussell Sun 16-Aug-15 09:52:10

"Everyone's allowed to say" not "has the right to say" -sorry.

LIZS Sun 16-Aug-15 09:54:27

But surely at that age you know the parents at least in passing. Can you invite over first , perhaps with parent/carer? I do think you are reflecting on your own experience, you were a victim so caution is understandable. However using a dispute over a cuddle with her little sister to make a point about strangers is a big leap for a 6 year.

PerspicaciaTick Sun 16-Aug-15 09:56:27

The difficulty is that you are talking about uncomfortable touching and hugging, contact that makes the child feel uncomfortable and which they need to know it is OK to refuse. But your DD has no personal experience of this, she enjoys all cuddling at the moment and can't imagine what unwelcome touching is.
Could you talk through some age appropriate scenarios which she might recognise? What if she was busy doing some writing/drawing and her little sister kept trying to force her to stop for cuddles? What if mummy was wearing an itchy jumper that was nasty to cuddle? What if she was playing with a friend but another classmate kept trying to get her attention by grabbing her arm and interrupting the game?

BeCarefulWithThat Sun 16-Aug-15 09:57:43

Of course I know the parents - does quietlysuggests think I'm sending my DD to play with complete strangers?

Mrsjayy Sun 16-Aug-15 10:01:23

I think you are getting wires crossed with her and saying two different things,
her sister didnt want a cuddle and got annoyed you should have said to her that sister didnt want cuddles and to upset sister was wrong and annoyed her but instead you went into other people touching dd
i think you are overloading her with information and confusing her and that is why she got frustrated with you you need to keep it simple ime

spanisharmada Sun 16-Aug-15 10:04:11

I think as others have said she just has no grasp of what you're trying to get at, as happily she hasn't had any negative experiences. I've had similar chats with DD about respecting personal space etc, neither of them really 'got' it, until a boy at school stuck his hand up DD1's skirt and touched her. They get it now.

Hellionandfriends Sun 16-Aug-15 10:08:19

She thinks all people are trusting and have nice motives. What you've said will stay with her and you will lead by example I'm sure. In the meantime maybe you could talk about speaking up with unhappy

Baffledmumtoday Sun 16-Aug-15 10:10:33

Message withdrawn at poster's request.

BertrandRussell Sun 16-Aug-15 10:14:59

"Of course I know the parents - does quietlysuggests think I'm sending my DD to play with complete strangers?"

I think you should just regard quietlysuggests as an anomaly and read what everyone ip else is saying.

applecore0317 Sun 16-Aug-15 11:38:49

The NSPCC talking pants campaign helps to explain, if you google it it will take you to the page on their website which helps to teach children that privates are private in a way they can understand without being explicit.

applecore0317 Sun 16-Aug-15 11:39:26

squizita Sun 16-Aug-15 11:52:14

It sounds like she is thinking purely in terms of sibling hugs ... ie she would stop playing to give a hug out of kindness. Not at all what you are worried about.
I don't think if someone nasty was asking her to do something she would do it out of kindness.
She was talking about the situation then and there ... ie that she would stop play to hug a relative (which is actually body autonomy ... its consent. You don't want to confuse her into thinking touch is bad either).

Garlick Sun 16-Aug-15 12:04:48

which is actually body autonomy ... its consent.

Yes, the point at that moment was DD2's consent. Everybody's allowed not to want a cuddle. That's okay, we don't force people to be cuddled.

Then there will be some other moment when she doesn't want a cuddle/kiss, and that's where you get your reinforcement smile

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