Personal Space is a very important social skill for children in elementary school to learn, practice and grow. Understanding and keeping good personal space helps children to engage more successfully in everyday interactions and in personal relationships with peers and adults, as well as helping them to stay safe.
Everyone feels more comfortable when the person they are with, respects their Personal Space.
While there some commonly held beliefs on how much space is appropriate in a given situation; the amount of personal space each of us needs can vary greatly.
Why Should We Teach Personal Space?
One important reason to teach children to understand and respect personal space is for safety. Personal space can help us to stay safe. It can be a buffer zone which keeps people at a safe distance and even from bumping into one another. Personal space is a private and individual thing that can be hard to explain. We almost consider it like an extension of our body.
People may react negatively when their personal space is being invaded by another. They may simply feel discomfort, or they may experience anxiety or anger. Some children may even lash out physically at another child who has invaded their space. It is important to know the personal space boundaries of the students in your class. Especially if a child has a very small space bubble and experiences big reactions to someone coming into their space.
Personal space boundaries (space bubbles) can vary widely from person to person. It can depend on a variety of factors, including how well you know the other person, your relationship with the other person (do you like them, not like them), and how much you trust them.
How Do We Teach Personal Space?
Some children need to be taught to have a bigger space bubble with certain people or groups of people.
One way to teach them this is by using a Personal Space Target. Using this target to demonstrate, you would draw, write or put a picture of the student in the middle of the target (the bullseye), then use the next rings to demonstrate who it is safe to have a smaller space bubble with and who should be kept at a greater distance. For example, family members would be in the ring next to the bullseye and strangers would be in the outermost ring.
For your convenience, I have made 3 Personal Space Targets for you. The first one is blank so that you or your student can add in the information. You can draw it, write it, or even use real photos. The second Target has some grey shading to help students visualize the different rings/levels of personal space. This target may be good for use with older students. The third Target is in soft colors to nicely demonstrate the different rings/levels of personal space generally used by people.
To get these personal space targets, CLICK HERE to go to my Personal Space blog post.
At the bottom of that post you can fill out the form to get your targets as well as weekly social skills resources in my Free club, The Teacher’s Lounge!
Thanks So Much and Happy Teaching!
Cindy ~Socially Skilled Kids
Read the entire post written 9/2017 Here