Monday, May 26, 2008

How to teach personal space?

Punky is an extremely loving, "mothering" type of child who stops me several times a day with a hug around my knees and an "I love you, Mommy!".  I was raised in a home where physical contact was limited, verbal affection was practically non existent and emotions were supposed to be kept private.  I'm determined for my children to know how much I love them and feel free to express their affection with hugs, kisses, praise and kind words.  I discovered tonight that perhaps we've all gone overboard with teaching her this.

Punky loves this adorable little girl at our church.  She's very into babies, real or otherwise, and this little girl is super tiny for her age and as cute as can be.  Punky loves to invade her "bubble."  She touches her face, plays with her hair, and rubs her legs and arms, proudly exclaiming, "I'm touching her!"  I'm the kind of mother who's very conscious about my kids annoying other mothers and them doing things they might not like.  I'm good friends with "Tiny's" mom but I still feel like I can use this as a teaching time for Punky to learn personal space.

My in laws had us all over tonight for burgers and Punky enjoyed playing with Tiny but also enjoyed annoying every other parent there.  She hugged them all, kissed them all before leaving, which is incredibly sweet, but I could still see the weary faces of everyone just tired of having to dish out one more hug on her command.  She also decided she had to fix Tiny's mom's hair.  I pulled her aside and told her that while she was being very sweet, she couldn't touch Tiny's mom's hair anymore because we had to give her some space.  Of course, a "spacey" look was all I got in return.  Of course she doesn't understand what I'm saying.  I try again.  "Mommy said don't touch Tiny's mom's hair because sometime people don't like it."  That got a little spark of light in her eye.  "Don't touch her hair again, ok?"  Ok, Punky said.  And she didn't.  But she didn't back off Tiny or any of the other parents there.

I know she's just being a kid.  A sweet kid at that and the last thing I want to do is discourage that.  Far too few people in this world are the way she is right now.  But how on earth do I teach her not to invade the bubble and give other's their space?  How do I teach her that perhaps it's ok to hug everyone in the room when she's leaving, but she MUST make sure she doesn't over do it?

I guess of all problems to be having with Punky, this is probably a good problem to have, but I still don't want people to dread being around us because she demands so much attention, you know?  Anyone have any suggestions or comments on how to fix this with a two year old?


Anonymous said...

I don't know of many people that have children, especially girls, that have not come across this. Girls seem to have something in them that says I need to have attention. They also tend to lean more toward a mothering role. Since I don't have a girl or that problem with mine yet, I don't have any personal advice. All I can say is keep encouraging her to be loving, but also talk to her before, during, and after she is going to be around others like that. My parents were big on explaining to us before we went somewhere how we were to behave and the things we were and were not supposed to do while there. They always 'read us our rights' just before we got out of the car and then again later if we needed it. We knew exactly what was expected of us before we went somewhere and what would happen if we did not behave. It is worth a try. I know it sure worked for me and my sister not only when we were young, but also when we were in HS.

Mandy said...

I say just leave her be. She is very compassionate, loving and caring and maybe she can teach others a thing or two.

My hubby is very much like that still to this day, minus playing with other Mommy's hair and giving them kisses ha-ha!!! and everyone that has met him instantly falls in love with him. You know, you did and even predicted that I would. :)