“Stop! Don’t touch me there!”

“Stop! Don’t touch me there! This is my no no square!”

I was in my 2nd year of teaching and we were outside during recess. The 5th grade boys were running around playing touch football or tag and the girls were in a circle giggling and chanting.

As I sat watching them do what I initially thought were cheerleader movements, they started making hand gestures that looked interesting. Being the teacher that I was, I had to learn this new cheer routine! Little did I know, it was not a cheer routine that my classroom girls would teach me. Instead, it was a catchy chant to remind those of personal boundaries.

It sounded silly when I first heard it. To an adult in her early 20s without any kids, it also sounded a bit inappropriate. Why on earth would a parent teach their child that chant? Isn’t it just introducing the idea of sexual contact? I thought to myself. (In hindsight I see that this type of thinking was naive.)

Now, as a mother of 4 innocent children, 3 girls and 1 boy, this chant seems more appropriate than ever. It’s words may sound silly, but it’s message is loud and clear. “Back off, this is my body, and you don’t have permission to touch it.” My oldest, Maggie, was chanting this yesterday and as she used her fingers to draw a square around her mid section area, she said, “Mom, my square is more like a rectangle now. Because if I don’t want someone to touch my leg either, they aren’t allowed to, right?” As I applauded her for being so aware of her own personal body boundaries, I was very appreciative of the silly chant my former 5th graders taught me. It gave me a way to introduce body boundaries with my children at a level that they could understand.

Say it aloud with me and practice it with your child(ren). “Stop! Don’t touch me there! This is my no no square!” I hope this initially silly sounding chant is something that your child never has to use outside of practice. I also hope it serves as a less awkward introduction to body boundaries for those of you who may not feel comfortable speaking about this topic. Either way, it is very important to teach our youth that there are personal boundaries that need to be set and to not be afraid to use their voice to express it.

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