“I had a gut feeling,” “I should have followed my gut,” “I knew in my gut, it didn’t feel right.” How many times have we heard people say these words, or used them ourselves! Your “gut” is your inner knowing, your “feeling” about something. That feeling, is you, reading the energy of a situation. It is something everyone is born with. It isn’t nothing, it is something that we need to pay attention to! We have had this ability from birth!
Babies come into this world with the ability to sense their environment. It is all they have to go on in the beginning. I remember clearly when I had my daughter. I knew by the cry coming down the hallway from the nursery, that was my child. The second the nurse wheeled her through the doorway of my room, she stopped crying instantly. Finding this very peculiar, I asked the nurse about it. She replied that a baby can sense when their mother is near. They know who Mom is instinctively and if she is close by. This is one of the innate senses that a baby is born with. It helps them to navigate their world. Babies as well as young children seem to be able to read their environment very well. They have a tendency to be uncomfortable or unsettled around people who are tense, anxious, angry, or generally feel uncomfortable around. Sometimes they don’t know why, they just move away. They are feeling the energy of the person and allowing their “gut,” their natural instinct, to keep them safe. This is the type of thing that never really leaves us. We either, as we grow, become more dependent on other forms of communication as we develop those skills or we are taught or decide to disregard them all together.
Call it instinct, gut feeling, whatever it is, we are born with it! Unfortunately for most of us, as we grow, we pay less and less attention to our natural born instincts. This can be for various reasons but one of the most concerning is well meaning adults forcing their young kids into situations child is unsure of. Whether it is Aunt Rita or a friend of Mom or Dad, if the child isn’t comfortable giving them a hug or handshake, respect their boundaries. Leaving it up to the child, reinforces it is ok for them to decide what they are comfortable with and what they are not! Forcing them into an interaction they are not comfortable with can send the message that their boundaries are not appropriate or boundaries are not ok to have! One of the best examples of this is the tradition of children sitting on Santa’s lap. I don’t know how many children scream bloody murder or look extremely uncomfortable during this interaction,” with parents standing by smiling or laughing while their child is terrified of this person they have never met in their life. Of course, not all children have this reaction to Santa, but for the ones that do, consider respecting the fact the child would rather not partake in this tradition.
I have been following and supporting a local organization that does incredible work with victims of sex trafficking. At one of their educational events for the community, several parents of young girls asked what the number one thing they can do now for their children to help prevent this from happening to them, the therapist encouraged the parents to respect a child’s boundaries if they are uncomfortable around another person. Don’t force them into physical contact. Let the child decide for themselves if a hug is appropriate! This gives them the power to decide for themselves and reinforces what they are comfortable with for boundaries. Please don’t squash this. This gut feeling needs to be strong as they get older and they need to trust in it! It will help keep them safe as they go out into the world!