• Personal Space Tool         Personal Space Tool - Yarn                            

    "I have a right to my space and so do you."  

    The concept: All of us have a right to our personal space and the responsibility to give others the same right. When we are aware of the physical space around us, we can better understand our needs and how we impact others. At BMSA, we talk about how people can have personal space problems that are physical, but also emotional.  When the words or noises one person makes enter the space of another, we can use our Personal Space Tools to respectfully find a win-win. 

    Hand Gesture: Straight arms in front of you, palms faced out, and elbows relaxed.  Move hands apart and together, communicating a boundary of space around you.

    The Tool: A ball of yarn reminds us that we can set boundaries, as a contractor does before they lay a foundation or to mark where different rooms will be built. 

    Encouraging the Tool at Home

    You Go First

    As parents, there are plenty of opportunities to ask for a little more personal space. When you notice you are feeling annoyed or overwhelmed with the noise or closeness of others, say something like, "I am feeling _________.  Would you be willing to give me more personal space by ___________ (moving over/turning down the music/etc.)"

    Become aware of what you are doing to accommodate others needs (like tolerating a repetitive noise that you would rather not, or picking up dirty clothes from the bathroom floor) and what others are doing to accomodate yours.  Ask yourself the question, Is this a win-win?  Perhaps you will notice that you are tolerating too much and it's appropriate to ask for more.  Or maybe you will notice that you expect too much sometimes. It's likely that you'll notice both situations. When we are stressed, we can't handle as much irritation and things that cause extra work as when we are calm. It may be that we need to take better care of our stress by using our tools. And as children become more independent, it can be natural to tolerate "putting up with things" out of habit when it may be better to ask more from them. 


    Explicitly Model Using the Tool

    • When you are setting a boundary with someone, use the TOOLBOX language. Here are some examples:
      • "May I have a bit more personal space please?"
      • "Can we have a Personal Space conversation about the volume of the T.V.? Let's find a win-win volume where you can hear and it doesn't feel too loud for me."

    Practice as a Family

    • When siblings argue in disrespectful ways, the arguing enters parents' personal space, often causing frustration, stress, and/or sadness.  If you notice this happening too much in your house, pick a time to talk about it as a family.  Say, "I've been noticing that when you kids argue, I feel ______, and it really drains my energy. I'd like to have a discussion about how we can have more win-win moments in our family. Would you be willing to disagree more respectfully and calmly?" Then you can ask them what they need in order to make that change.  What tools will they need to use? (calming choices like Breathing and Quiet Safe Place, & Using Your Words Tool.  You can ask them how will they remember? (They might need written reminders or nonverbal hand gestures such as the Personal Space Tool one described above.)
      • If it continues and you think a consequence is necessary, you can decide as a family what would be an appropriate way to make things right if they argue in front of you. You can help them think through logical consequences such as household chores to build your energy back up or writing out their side of the argument using persuasive language and supporting facts. 
    • The Personal Space Tool is a great tool for boundary setting. This is a crucial skill for healthy relationships throughout our lives. When we set healthy boundaries, we find don't take too much from others and we don't offer too much of ourselves. Help your children find the right words to set boundaries for themselves. 


    Encourage Family Members

    • Praise family members when they use respectful words to ask for what they need and want with regard to personal space.  
    • Ask reflective questions such as, "Did you notice any personal space problems today?  How did you handle it?"