Teach children to ask permission before touching or hugging a playmate. Use language like, “Mary, let’s ask John if he would like to hug bye-bye.” If John says “no”, help your children respect boundaries and tell her, “John said no. He does not want a hug. That’s okay! Let’s wave bye-bye to him instead.”
Teach your children that “no” and “stop” are important words and should be respected. Like the scenario above, it was important to respect John’s “no” and help Mary understand that. During play, help children check-in with their playmates when they hear these words and explain that when we hear “no” we always stop what we’re doing immediately. No matter what.
Parents also need to respect their children’s boundaries, too! Model consent by not tickling, hugging, kissing, or wrestling children when they say no.