How to Teach Children About Personal Space

By Erica Dallas
Demonstrate the difference between being an appropriate distance from people and invading their space.
Demonstrate the difference between being an appropriate distance from people and invading their space.

The concept of personal space is a delicate matter that can be interpreted in different ways according to a person’s customs or individual preferences. Children tend to have a more limited understanding of what it means to stand close too someone or make physical contact with them. Their initial instinct leads them to hug, lean on or grab the hand of family, friends and strangers. In their minds, this represents familiarity and friendship. However, it is up to parents and adults to establish boundaries and teach children the parameters in order to respect another person’s space.

Explain the concept of personal space to the child. Stress the differences between the child and the opposite sex and how critical it is to value that person’s privacy. Children are at vulnerable stages where they are naive about the meanings behind suggestive behaviors. Therefore, explain that body parts are off limits and such actions like tickling, being clingy and rubbing are unacceptable ways to value personal space.

Teach the child to respect others. When dealing with personal space, attitudes can enter into the picture. Emphasize how important it is to apologize for invading a person’s area, as well as how to say no to someone else’s inappropriate behavior.

Role play to give the child a concrete idea of how to interact with others. Give relatable examples and demonstrate them so the child can see just how far he should stand from a person and ways in which he can communicate without any constant touching or pushing people. Conversely, show him ways to intercept those that may try to invade his space.

Put your child to the test. After giving your child a thorough lesson on respecting personal space, give him activities to complete to determine his understanding of the matter. Take a day to observe him at school or a kid function.

About the Author

Erica Dallas has been published in periodical such as "The Commercial Appeal," "MidSouth Magazine" and "Black Enterprise Magazine." She is a native Memphian and graduate of the University of Memphis with a Bachelor of Business Administration and a Master of Arts in sociology. Erica is currently pursuing a Master of Science in teaching.