Updated: Oct 16, 2022
This article was written by Kayelene Kerr from eSafeKids.
A classroom greeting is a great way to teach, model and practice the concepts of personal space, body autonomy, body boundaries, consent and respect.
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The teacher or child can choose how they wish to be greeted each day. We can encourage children to:
⭐️ Say or indicate by pointing, how they’d like to be greeted, ⭐️ Ask for permission (Can I please have a hug today), ⭐️ Wait for a response, ⭐️ Then proceed with the mutually chosen greeting.
From time to time the teacher may choose to say something like:
⭐️ “I’m not feeling like a hug today, how about a high five instead.”
This shows children that just because someone likes hugs they are entitled to change their mind at any time on any day.
This will assist children to learn that:
⭐️ They (and others) are the boss of their body, ⭐️ They can make their own choices about who can come into their personal space, when someone can come into their personal space and how long they can stay, ⭐️ They can so no if they don’t want someone to come into their personal space, and ⭐️ If they agree to someone coming into their personal space, they can change their mind at anytime.
Just because you’ve always given someone a hug, doesn’t mean you always have to. It’s important people respect your personal space and you respect others' personal space. Our feelings about personal space can be different and can change, and that’s okay!
You can also brainstorm with children alternatives to people coming into their personal space. For example, if you don’t feel like hugging someone, what are some alternatives?:
⭐️ Fist bump ⭐️ Elbow bump/tap
⭐️ Hand shake ⭐️ High five ⭐️ Groovy dance ⭐️ Wink ⭐️ Wave
⭐️ Air hug
⭐️ Foot tap
We can also extend this conversation and discuss that if we say no to someone and they get upset or angry, that does not mean we should have said yes.
Teaching children about body autonomy and consent teaches them to express and accept physical affection in ways that feel good for them and good for others. Starting these lessons early helps children define and assert their boundaries now and for the rest of their lives.
Check out this great greeting plaque made by Perth small business SHARTRUESE.
All these greetings involve no physical contact making this plaque suitable for the classroom and during times of social distancing. Visit: https://shartruese.myshopify.com
Child friendly books:
Visit the eSafeKids website to view a range of child friendly books sourced to support parents, carers, educators and other professionals.
eSafeKids Book Readings:
Visit the eSafeKids YouTube Channel and you'll find lots of videos to support you.
This teacher has personalised handshakes with every student! I'm amazed he can remember them all.
“From a young age we can teach children what consent looks like, feels like and sounds like. We can teach children to set boundaries and express those boundaries, if need be assertively. We can also teach children to accept and respect other people’s boundaries.”
- Kayelene Kerr eSafeKids -
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About The Author
Kayelene Kerr is recognised as one of Western Australia’s most experienced specialist providers of Protective Behaviours, Body Safety, Cyber Safety, Digital Wellness and Pornography education workshops. Kayelene is passionate about the prevention of child abuse and sexual exploitation, drawing on over 24 years’ experience of study and law enforcement, investigating sexual crimes, including technology facilitated crimes. Kayelene delivers engaging and sought after prevention education workshops to educate, equip and empower children and young people, and to help support parents, carers, educators and other professionals. Kayelene believes protecting children from harm is a shared responsibility and everyone can play a role in the care, safety and protection of children. Kayelene aims to inspire the trusted adults in children’s lives to tackle sometimes challenging topics.
eSafeKids strives to reduce and prevent harm through proactive prevention education, supporting and inspiring parents, carers, educators and other professionals to talk with children, young people and vulnerable adults about protective behaviours, body safety, cyber safety, digital wellness and pornography. eSafeKids is based in Perth, Western Australia.
eSafeKids provides books and resources to teach children about social and emotional intelligence, resilience, empathy, gender equality, consent, body safety, protective behaviours, cyber safety, digital wellness, media literacy, puberty and pornography.
eSafeKids books can support educators teaching protective behaviours and child abuse prevention education that aligns with the Western Australian Curriculum, Australian Curriculum, Early Years Learning Framework (EYLF) and National Quality Framework: National Quality Standards (NQS).