Thursday, March 29, 2012

The space bubble

I'm searching tonight for more ideas on how to teach personal space. I have always been intersted in how to teach kids the unwritten social rules and this is a major one. My "make a bubble and make sure not to bounce it against someone else's bubble" backfired. Here are some resources I am finding on my search:

From the link:

Space Tag - In a large spacious area, like a park or back yard, have your child keep away from you as you try to invade his personal space. "I am an alien space invader, and I'm going to invade your space!" You don't have to touch him for him to be it, just get very close, and when you do, say "I got you!" If your child complains that you didn't tag her, explain that "personal space" is the area close around us, and that we don't have to touch someone to enter it.

Bumper Bubbles - With a group of children, play tag using hoola hoops. The children must hold the hoop around them as they run. The person who is it tries to "bump" his hoop into their hoops. If he bumps anyone, she is it. Also explain that if any player bumps any other player's hoop accidentally during the game, their bubble "pops" and they are out. They must drop their hoop on the ground and sit inside it.
Personal Space Circle - Using a long rope or cord, make a circle on the floor. Overlap the ends so that you are not making the largest circle possible. Have your child sit in the circle, and explain that personal space is smaller for people we are very close to. For example, we know our mom and dad, and brothers and sisters, so we feel more comfortable with each other. Our personal space circle is smaller with them.

Make the circle a bit larger, and explain that the circle gets a little bigger for friends and teachers. That's because we know them, but we aren't as close to them.

Make the circle as large as can be, and explain that for people we don't know at all, like strangers, the personal space circle is a lot bigger. The less we know the person, the bigger the space should be.

Give your child a verbal cue, like gently saying the words "personal space," as a reminder if you see her getting inappropriately close to someone. And teach your child what to do if someone invades his personal space.

From the link:

Use a social story to explain the reasons for personal space and personal safety (e.g., "Sometimes I stand too close to other people. When I do this, the other person may get mad at me because I am too close. The other person may think I am trying to hurt them. I will try to stand one arm length away from people when I talk to them unless it is my Mom, Dad, or grandparent.").

Set aside a time for teaching about “Social Circles”. Social Circles is a graphic way of showing children the different levels of familiarity we are to have with people we know and don't know.

Start by drawing a small circle on a large piece of blank paper. Write the child's name in the circle and/or paste his picture there. Tell him this is his personal space, his body, and that only certain people can get real close to him.

Draw a larger circle around the child's circle and write “family” in this larger circle. You can write and/or paste pictures of immediate family members (mom, dad, brother, grandmothers, grandfathers, close uncles and aunts) in this circle. Explain that these people are family members. They may kiss or hug him and it’s okay to sit on their lap, etc. Explain the sort of behavior that you feel is appropriate with these people.

Next draw an even larger circle around the child's and the family circle. Label this circle “friends & neighbors – people you know”. Write the names and/or paste pictures of people who fit into this category (e.g., next door neighbors, close church members, teachers, Sunday School teacher, etc.). Explain the sort of closeness and behavior that you feel is appropriate with this category of people (e.g., they wave at you, say “hello”, they may hug you if you want them to hug you, etc.).

Lastly, draw an even larger circle around the outside of all three smaller circles. Label this largest of the circles “strangers – people you don't know”. Explain that it is not okay to hug, kiss, get too close, or touch strangers or to allow them to touch you. Later you can explain the exceptions to this (e.g., a policeman when you’re lost, doctors when Mom or Dad are present, etc.). You want to get across the idea that no one has the right to touch him without permission and that he cannot touch strangers, period (for now).

You may use different colors for each circle to aid in its meaning to the child or young person. Remember that visual cues like this are a great way to back up verbal communication if a child has autism or Asperger's syndrome.

You may also locate a copy of Stranger Danger or Good Touch Bad Touch, and similar books that teach appropriate personal space and sexual abuse prevention. Read it with the child, explaining as necessary. A good method is to use a Ken or Barbie doll (depending upon the child's sex) to teach that his or her private area is the area covered by their swim suit. Teach the child to loudly say "No" if anyone tries to touch their private area (If the child is not verbal, teach him or her to get away). Teach the child a way to tell an adult that someone has tried to touch their private area (use a sign or picture if the child in non-verbal).

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