Indra’s blog: About cuddles and learning when No is No
I have two beautiful sons. Boys will be boys, so they do fight, as siblings do. But more often you will find them cuddling away. Especially in the school hallway, before they go into class, they will share a quick hug and sometimes a kiss. It is so cute and so adorable and it makes me happy every single time I see it.
The eldest loves every single cuddle he can get of his little brother; however sometimes little man likes cuddling his mum more. So, when I get a cuddle it does not automatically mean that big brother gets a cuddle as well. And he finds that hard. He does not get why he is not getting a hug now while he would have been cuddled and kissed before. He always asks, “Can I get a cuddle/kiss too?” And sometimes that works and he is happy. But sometimes it does not and the answer is NO. He might cry, he might get upset, he might just try to ‘take’ a cuddle. And that’s when I need to step in. It seems something small in this context and he means no harm, but already so important to learn and understand that No is No. ALWAYS. If No was Yes before, then still No is No now, even if that was two minutes ago and you cannot ever force a Yes. But, also learning from the opposite side of the situation. I want them to understand that it is OK to say No any time and it is only OK to say Yes if you really want to. And it is OK to say No now, even if you have said Yes before.
I also feel the importance of letting them understand they have their own space and they decide about that space. So, you will not hear me say to them, give x a hug. Not even when it is a relative or close friend. Obviously, they need to learn to shake a hand, as that is polite, but it is their decision if they want to cuddle/hug/kiss this other person and that should never be forced upon them. Preferably not even asked for one by an adult, as it can feel pressurised. I love it when they do a high five, as it is happy, uplifting and always OK.
I received a compliment recently, when we were going through airport security. The alarm went off with the eldest and I was told he needed to be checked. So, I asked the security guard to wait until I was through the gate as well. Then explained to my son the security guard was going to tickle him to check if everything was OK to keep everybody safe, but the man was only allowed to do that on this occasion and because I was there with him. The security guard said he was well impressed and found it a great example of safeguarding.
Am I taking things too far? I don’t think so. As a parent it is so important to teach your kids these things, because it is not a loaden subject in these small contexts, but they will hopefully understand the point when the context changes.
As a dentist, unfortunately, we sometimes get to see the other side, the after math. When a patient confides in you about their abuse or other horrible things done to them, often as a child, which still haunt and affect them as an adult. These experiences sometimes make it hard for them to go to see a professional as we are ‘in their personal space’ and especially a dentist who’s work territory is in their mouth. Some patients can’t even brush their own teeth or will gag as soon as you touch them. We see these things and try to help. Sometimes patients will ask a nurse to leave the room and only want to tell me. Because it is too horrible or they are ashamed or they need their privacy. And that is fine. Because I have all the time I can give for these heroes.
I hope you have not been affected by this blog. However, if you have a history, I just want you to know that we are there for you too. We will respect your space and you can ALWAYS talk to me or, if you would wish, to any member of my team about any concerns you might have. We will understand you and help you as much as we can to make your journey as easy as possible. And if you want us to stop at any point during an examination or a treatment, just so you know, we fully respect that NO is NO any time.