The Psychology Of Personal Space | Child Psychology

Boundaries define where you end and the other person starts. Boundaries can refer to actual space but also psychological space such as jealousy and being over protective. Personal space usually refers to actual space such as the distance between people or personal areas in a home. For example, a child’s room is that child’s personal space; violating that will cause conflict.

Relevance to abuse: In a sense all abusive problems are boundary and personal space problems. The abuser is intruding past your boundaries and not allowing you to get close to his or hers. Boundary problems involve both people: the abuser intrudes too far into another’s space and the abused does not set limits where limits need to be set.

Examples: No adult should be held responsible for another adult’s problems; this is a boundary question. However, as parents we may feel we are responsible for our children’s problems to a point.
Some boundary problems are not obvious. Being loved too much is a boundary problem, because the loved one is not giving the lover space to breath as an individual. Not letting a partner have time alone is a personal space problem.Checking up on a partner’s activities is a boundary problem.

Several studies of personal space were conducted with nursery school children because understanding of personal space begins to develop around age four. The three variables that seem to affect a child’s choice of distance from another person are the closeness of the relationship, gender, and whether the situation was formal or informal.

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