5 Ways to Teach Kids How to Respect Personal Space
Children with ADHD and other learning processing disorders are often not aware of other people's need for personal space. Luckily, there are several ways that you can help kids who are "seekers" develop a better understanding of people's physical boundaries. Follow these tips to teach children how to respect privacy and personal space, and you can help improve their social skills and increase their ability to form good, healthy relationships.
1. Use Carpet Squares
Get a sample of carpet from a carpet store, then have your child sit and stay on that carpet when completing activities like homework, reading, or crafts. Explain that the carpet square represents their personal space and the space they are allowed to occupy when working. This will help your child develop an understanding of how to stay in their own spot and not invade (or even drift) into another's.
2. Give Your Child Verbal Reminders About Privacy
When your child needs to use the bathroom or change their clothes, teach them to go into their bedroom or bathroom and close the door. If they don't, verbally remind them to close the door (then help them do it if need be). When you need privacy for an activity like showering or changing your clothes, use the opportunity to give a verbal reminder. Say, "I'm going to go into my bathroom and close the door so I can have some privacy when I shower," so that they learn to associate personal activities with private space.
3. Give Your Children Options About Touch
Teach your children that they can have a say in their own personal space and set their own boundaries. Before you hug and kiss them, ask them if they feel comfortable with you giving them affection and in what ways. Empowering them to designate their own personal space will help them understand that other people want to do so, too.
4. Create Spaces at Home for Each Child
Help children increase their understanding of each person's boundaries by designating specific spots in the home that are just for them. This can be their bedroom, their bed itself if they share a room, a toy chest, a closet, and more. Allow this place to be only for them and their belongings, and make other family members ask for permission before accessing it. The more a child can understand and appreciate his own personal space, the more he can understand it for others.
5. Have Your Child and Friends Play with Hula Hoops
Tie two long ribbons around a hula hoop and hang the hula hoop over your child's shoulders. Repeat the same for their siblings, friends, and even yourself. Then have them play normally, but with the hoops on. The hoops remind people of their personal space and stop others from crossing it, which can help reinforce how close is appropriate (or not appropriate).
Children with learning disorders might not inherently understand everyone's need for personal space. By teaching them how to uphold other people's boundaries and consider the privacy needs in others, you can ensure that they treat everyone with respect. Ultimately, this can help them build healthy, thriving relationships throughout their lifetime.