For generations, most parents viewed tickling as a harmless and friendly activity they and other close friends and family could enjoy with their children. It was just fun to play around with your kids, but for one mom, this traditional worldwide activity isn’t as innocent as most of us think.
However, the New Zealand Herald reports that an unnamed woman went viral in 2021 after her views went viral in a widely-spread Facebook post in which she claimed tickling kids should be outlawed and considered a form of child abuse.
It’s pretty safe to say that folks were divided over this one.
The mom explained that if a parent tickled their child, then continued even after the child expressly told them to stop, that’s a form of abuse.
In a screenshot captured by LADBible, we can see Facebook chat between the mom and another user. She writes:
“If [kids] come looking for it/ask for it, they like [tickling]. Stop when they ask you to stop. It’s about consent and you are teaching them their body, their rules.”
However, the person she was chatting with didn’t agree.
“So it’d be child abuse to do it to my kids?” the other user replies.
That person explained how kids could sometimes be fickle when it comes to knowing what they want. One minute they may like tickles, then the next they don’t, but then they usually change their minds again.
However, the mom firmly stood her ground and reaffirmed her position on the matter.
“[Not tickling] is one small thing you can do to show respect,” she shot back at the other Facebook user.
“It’s easy and causes no harm. Why wouldn’t you?”
The comments section was filled with people accusing the mom of taking political correctness way too far.
“Tickling isn’t going to traumatize a kid in this case,” one user said, as per NZ Herald.
Another added, “What? We argue about tickling now? 2020 is the worst.”
But, a few people also took the mom’s side and said tickling should require consent first.
“I hate being tickled because my brother and sister would tickle me and tickle me and tickle me and wouldn’t stop even when I started crying,” one user commented. “I’m totally with [the mom].”
Another chimed in that they “tickle [their] kids, but stop the second they ask [them] to.”
Meanwhile, researchers have found that the response we have while being tickled doesn’t always signal we are having fun.
While tickling can literally cause some sequel with laughter, in an interview with the New York Times, evolutionary biologist Richard Alexander noted that tickling “does not create a pleasurable feeling — just the outward appearance of one.”
According to Healthline, our laughter response to tickling happens because of autonomic emotional response. This response is actually a panic response, just like someone might have when experiencing severe pain.
To avoid confusing these emotions, some experts say parents should leave tickling up to their children to decide.
Respecting a kid’s right to say “yes” or “no” or even “stop,” will help them learn that they have the right to decide what happens to their body.
As psychologist Alice Miller once said:
“If children have been accustomed from the start to having their world respected, they will have no trouble later in life recognizing disrespect… and will rebel against it on their own.”
You can also watch a video about this debate below.
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- “Mom Insists Tickling Children Is ‘Child Abuse’ And Divides The Internet” Crafty.diply. Caitlyn Clancey, September 8, 2021.