Behind the Scenes: How Can I Get My Child To Stop Touching Me?!

This question was sent in to me via Facebook:

"My 3 year old has an obsession with a mole on my arm. It's a raised mole, and he rub his finger around in a circle on it. I'd love to get him to stop because it's slowly driving me insane. But, honestly, I'm getting touched out! I don’t blame him because it seems like a sensory issue but this needs to stop! What can I do?”

 

I love that you are listening to your body about what you need, Mom,...even if it is with your own child! That can be hard for many parents. This situation, while maddening, is a great opportunity to teach your child about consent. And it is never too early to talk about consent and others' bodies!

For small children like your son, you can start with:

"I don't like it when you rub my mole that way."

or

"I need you to ask before you touch my mole".

Using clear language helps him understand that some touch doesn't feel okay. The idea that for some people a touch may not feel okay can be a new concept for kids. But at some point, someone will touch them in a way that doesn't feel okay so it's great for them to get this message early.

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Clear language helps with this messaging. And it is okay to occasionally say "no" even if he does ask. {Note: if you *never* want him to touch the mole again, you need to re-work the language above to say that.} Either way, this area is a boundary for you. Boundaries are clear, concise language that is consistent and firm. Getting them respected, however, starts with clear language.

It's good for kids to sometimes hear "no" even if they asked "nicely". This helps them learn that asking nicely doesn't necessarily make the request comfortable for the giver. After all, a coerced "yes" isn't a yes! When you teach kids that "no" is something to be paid attention to, you help them use their own "no" better. You also model saying "no" about something related to your own body, gives them permission to do the same.

Finally, if he doesn't ask or if the encounter isn't respectful, you can leave. It is helpful to explain why you can't be with him in that moment. This not only gives your son context, again in simple clear language, but also shows him that you are serious. Again, modeling to him that he, too, can leave a situation when his own body doesn't feel safe or respected.

Talking about issues of comfortable touch is a low-stakes introduction to consent. Starting "small" like this helps you establish trust early. So ideally, later on when there are bigger issues, you both feel more comfortable talking about them because you have laid the ground work early.

Mom, you asking shows you want to do the right thing. That's such good parenting. Good luck!