Personal space is important for any individual. Children, however, often don’t have an understanding of the concept, or how uncomfortable people can become when their personal space is “invaded.” As a parent, you can teach them how to respect the personal space of their peers, family members, and other adults in their lives. By stressing the importance of a personal bubble and encouraging a child to respect the space of everyone around them, you’ll be able to ensure they avoid conflict in difficult situations where people feel their personal space is being violated.
CREATING A PERSONAL BUBBLE AROUND YOURSELF
When a child lacks respect for personal space in the middle of a task, employ the “bubble theory.” This means you put up an invisible bubble of a certain size around yourself, and ask your child to respect that space. If your child disagrees at first, make the space farther and farther away. If they continue to resist, send them to their room or use another method of discipline. After a few repeated efforts of this, begin to offer your child small rewards if they respect your space when you ask. A code word when they are becoming too close to others is also important; something familiar, like “personal bubble,” will help your child remember the need for people’s personal space.
REWARDING A CHILD FOR CONTINUALLY RESPECTING OTHERS' SPACE
If you go a long period of time without having to tell your child when to respect the space of others, it’s likely that the message has sunk in enough to become habitual. Reward them for having remembered this behavior, and encourage them to continue practicing it as much as possible while reminding your child that hugs and kisses are still okay.
● The “bubble theory” is a good idea for younger children who always demand attention.
● Children will not always want to be cuddled, but may feel anxiety or
loneliness. In these circumstances, you’ll likely be able to tell which is which and make the right decision on your response.
● By giving children a small-yet-reasonable distance to respect, they’ll feel more comfortable.