GOLDEN VALLEY, Minn. - Girl Scouts is reminding parents not to force their young girls to hug guests during the holidays. The organization says hugs that aren't the child's idea can give them the wrong idea about "consent and physical affection."
Girl Scouts says it can be common for parents to pressure their daughters to give hugs for reasons like "you haven't seen [that family member] in a while." It asks parents to "reconsider that urge," because young girls should be allowed the choice of whether or not they want to hug anyone.
“The notion of consent may seem very grown-up and like something that doesn’t pertain to children,” says Girl Scouts’ developmental psychologist Dr. Andrea Bastiani Archibald in an article on the Girl Scouts website, “but the lessons girls learn when they’re young about setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected last a lifetime, and can influence how she feels about herself and her body as she gets older."
Girl Scouts says giving your girls the choice to hug people or not doesn’t just promote self-respect, but also safety.
"Sadly, we know that some adults prey on children," Archibald said. "Teaching your daughter about consent early on can help her understand her rights, know when lines are being crossed, and when to go to you for help.”
Girl Scouts offers a few non-physical ways to show affection toward extended family: a smile, a high-five or an air kiss.