A few months back, Chickie and her friend Coqui kissed each other at church--a couple of times. Big ol' smooches on the lips. We adults couldn't help but laugh, but we also made it clear to them that kissing is really for when they get older--at this age, hugs are more appropriate! They took our words to heart, and now they give each other frequent, enthusiastic hugs.
Today on the way home, Chickie told me about one of the boys in her class who had hugged her and kissed her, when she didn't want him to. I asked her how it made her feel. "Icky" was the word she used to describe it, and that was a red flag to me. This was no consensual kissing--or hugging!
"What did you do about it?" I asked her. She responded that she told her teacher. Yay!! She did exactly what I want her to do in these situations--told her teacher immediately, and told me too. Her teacher used their discipline system to give the boy a consequence.
Now, I know that exploring appropriate forms of affection is totally normal at age five. But I also think it's never too early for my daughter to learn that she should have boundaries, and that she has permission to enforce them.
So I told her she can push a boy away if he's trying to hug or kiss her and she doesn't want it. "I can push him?" she asked, surprised. I made it clear that if she can get away without pushing him (just walking away as he approaches), she should. But if anyone (except a younger kid who doesn't know better) tries to touch her in a way that makes her feel icky and she can't just walk away, she can push.
I then emailed her teacher to update her on the conversation I'd had with Chickie. I feel that it's important for her teacher to know that it was a big enough deal for my girl to talk to me about it, and I also wanted her to know that I'd given my daughter permission to push, within certain guidelines!
I've got to be partners with her teacher if I want this year to be a good one. So far, it has been--this is the only real concern I've had to bring up with her teacher. She responded quickly to my email. She told me that they suggest the child say "Stop" and then tell the teacher. They can't advocate pushing, but if someone is holding onto them and they can't get away, of course they can do what they must to get out of the situation. Sounds like a good plan to me, and one that I'll be reinforcing in later conversations with Chickie.
What about you? Do you remember dealing with these issues when you were a kid? Or have you dealt with them with your own children?