For Parents Coach/gymnast boundaries: the flip side

Parents... Coaches... Judges... Gymnasts...
DON'T LURK... Join The Discussion!

Members See FEWER Ads!
Join for FREE!
Not open for further replies.


Proud Parent
Jan 31, 2012
The car
Parents and coaches, do you ever think about teaching kids boundaries in the way they interact with coaches, not so much for the child's protection but for the coaches' comfort and protection? I remember once seeing my child run up to and hug a coach without warning at the end of a summer camp session. The young man looked vaguely uncomfortable with the sudden hug, and it brought to mind my own discomfort with being hugged by students when I worked as a tutor after college. The tutoring center's policy prohibited tutors from hugging students for safety reasons, so it was always awkward when they wanted to hug me and I had to try to redirect them to a high-five. That day I explained to my daughter that you can't just hug anyone you want without making sure it's all right with them. Some adults, such as teachers, may not be allowed to hug children, and others may just want some respect for their personal space. It's usually fine to hug someone who, when you hold your arms out as if to hug them, reciprocates by outstretching her arms and smiling or otherwise indicating that she wants to share a hug, but it's not all right just to run up and grab someone or to insist upon hugging someone who indicates reluctance.

We teach our kids that no one can touch them without their consent, but sometimes I am not sure we do as good a job of teaching them that others (especially adults) also have the right not to be touched without consent. This applies in all contexts, of course, but I think kids are generally more likely to want to hug (or climb all over, etc.) their coaches than most of the other non-family adults in their lives. Thoughts?
It's an interesting question. For me, it's somewhat abstract, as my offspring aren't really the hugging type. But I'd say that yes, it's well worth the time to teach children that everyone's personal space boundaries deserve respect.
Since I have one super huggie type child, yes, this is something that we taught to her a looong time ago. Always respect other people’s personal space and boundaries. We went with the bubble analogy- everyone has an imaginary bubble around them, the approximate width of their outstretched arms, and they live happily in that bubble. If you enter their bubble without permission you pop their bubble. She’s 17 now, but the lesson stuck.
Short answer, yes, we do. Especially since I have boys, who need to know to respect women's boundaries (big issue in our society today). That being said, younger kids are impulsive and don't always stop to think, so I think a younger gymnast running to hug a coach not thinking is different than a 16 year old forcing him or herself on another person. They are still violating someone's personal space, but not with bad intentions. And if it happens and the coach is uncomfortable, the coach needs to tell the gymnast that they prefer to not be hugged, etc. The coach needs to be their own advocate too.
Not open for further replies.