53 answers

Are Hugs Required?

My husband and I are having a dispute and are looking for input.

Should you expect or require that your children hug everyone goodnight(specifically grandparents and family members if we're at their house visiting) if asked by either the parents or Grandparents? Do you consider hugging people goodnight a matter of manners or should the decision to hug be left up to the child?

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So What Happened?™

Wow! This was a hot topic! THANK YOU ALL for sharing your thoughts.

Unfortunately, this is an issue that just might not be resolved in our house. Despite all of the great input, my husband and I still don't agree. This discussion started in our house because my BIL and SIL (who live far away from the inlaws) ALWAYS requires their two children to hug everyone goodnight when they visit. For the most part, they're very willing to do this. My FIL, however, isn't generally interested in the kids - doesn't play with them all day- and when it's his turn for hugs it becomes this long, drawn out incident that gets uncomfortable for us all as he pulls the kids into his lap, and the kids try to squirm away, overtired and uncomfortable, and he tries to have some 'special' moment, hugging them and telling them how much he loves them or even trying to sing them a song. He goes on and on and on.... I always swore I wouldn't put my kids through that. If he doesn't give them any love during the day, he didn't earn their affection. They always JUMPED into my MIL's arms and it's a delight to see the wonderful relationship they have with her. Now that I have kids, I do want to avoid this incident with him AND I see that sometimes, my two year old just isn't feeling it or is too tired for the whole 'hugs for everyone' routine.

So... we hug ALL the time at home and I do want my child to choose to be affectionate with all of our family, immediate and extended. That being said, I grew up in a big family and was expected to hug everyone goodnight as a child. Everyone - sometimes even visiting friends of the family. I remember being very uncomfortable with this at times. Furthermore, I see hugging as a sign of affection, not something required by manners. So... if my children are overtired, grumpy or just not feeling it for someone, I cannot imagine forcing them to hug people. Adults should understand this and not be hurt. (And maybe if it's my FIL he'll realize what's going on.)

My husband feels that, if our 2 year old is asked for a hug or told to hug people good night (family) that she should do it as a matter of respecting adults (i.e. doing as she's told) and politeness. He feels that, mostly, if she refuses to do it, she is just flexing her little control muscles. We hadn't even thought of all the issues that come up with children learning about personal space and saying no and even those arguments didn't seem to sway him at all.

I guess that the resolution is this... I hope my children will always want to give hugs goodnight. If I'm putting my children to bed when others are around and am anticipating their reticence to be an issue, I will simply say, "Oh, they're so tired. Let's just tell everyone we love them and go get ready for bed" and allow them to say goodnight and blow kisses before we're on our way.

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I wouldn't feel comfortable requiring my child to hug someone. I suppose if it's about manners, which I can understand, then I would require that they say goodnight and goodbye.

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From a grandparents point of view I do not want my grandchildren forced to hug me. When they are little you can start the habit but as they grow allow them to do what is comfortable for them. The grandparent/grandchild relationship grows and may take time as we do not see them every day and they don't understand who we are. Time spent together will create memories that hopefully will result in them wanting to hug us. I also have always had an issue with adults kissing babies and young children on the mouth exposing the child to whatever. I w/much rather a hug and kiss on the cheek.

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you can suggested it, you can model it, but I would not force it. I dont think any child should be taught that they must show affection for anyone just because they are realeted, etc. A child should never have to kiss or hug anyone they do not want to.

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I guess I'm going to give a different point-of-view with a twist. I definitely support a child's ability to define the use of his/her personal space. However, personal space is *not* and issue when it comes to a 0-3year old! Yes, some children have Sensory Processing Disorders and some have spectrum issues which will impede their ability to both physically and emotionally interact with others. But barring that, I think most babies and toddlers should be taught that hugging is part of the good-bye routine when the Grandparents leave.

My brother/SIL has a son, about to turn 3, who has been taught that he has the "power" to decide who he hugs. And this clever little boy has been wielding his power in order to manipulate the adults to tip-toe around him since before he turned 2. There is no denying that it causes a slight distance in his relationship with the Grandparents (compared to my kids). Again, I know my SIL meant well in allowing her 2 year old to make his own decision...but it definitely backfired. It makes my nephew stand-out as a bit strange and weird -- and it's a poor reflection on my brother and SIL.

As my kids get older, I expect them to "rebel" and refuse hug requests at times...and they will never be forced to give a hug. But we believe that a child's closest bonds start with physical interaction. I allowed the Grandparents to hold and rock my babies as long as they wanted. As my kids grew older, I asked them to walk the Grandparents to the door and give hugs...and there has never, ever been an issue. We have NEVER "made" them give a hug to the Grandparents...my kids just leap into their arms! I think if you simply teach a hug (for the people you chose!) as part of the routine, you won't have a big deal.

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No, children should not be required to hug or kiss any relative. To say goodnight is a must, however. The hug is a genuine display of affection and that has to be earned. I never tell my kids to hug anybody including myself, but, funny thing, they do willingly hug me, dad, grandma. And that is the most precious thing. That lets me know how they really feel.

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I find that expecting a tired child to hug every family member goodnight to be ridiculous. A simple "goodnight" should suffice.

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I ask my kids to give to give hugs but sometimes they just don't want to hug. Instead of hurting peoples feelings I ask if they can have a high five, or an eskimo kiss or some other type of gesture the kids might think is fun. I've had melt downs over not wanting to hug grandparents. I always told my husband its not worth the battle, if they don't want to hug, find another way to say goodnight.

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Hi J.,

I have 4 children and if they didn't want to hug everyone that was just fine. The family understood that sometimes children, no matter what age, just don't have the comfort or connection at that time but eventually will. My belief is why teach a child to fake an emotion. Hugs have a meaning, which is affection. My 15 and 13 year old always hug who they are close to or if a gift or sign of affection was shown to them also. My younger two (9 and 6yrs) are pretty good at hugging now, but I don't force them to hug. I do make them say, "thank you" and "good-bye". Being polite and respectful is different from showing a sign of affection. Good Luck!! This is just one mom's opinion.

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I don't think they're required, I think it's something nice to do and show affection for that person. I think it's a good way to start teaching children that what they do affects others. BUT I also think that if the child is having a major meltdown over giving a hug then it should not be pushed, some kids (people in general) are just not touchy feely.

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I don't think, and have heard from several experts, that you should never force a child to hug anyone. It undermines their right to personal space. When my kids were younger and someone wanted a hug,and they didn't want to give it I would have them do a high five or blow a kiss. I don't believe that they should ever be taught that it is rude it they do not want physical contact, or if it the contact makes them feel awkward. We need to stress to kids that no one should be able to touch you and make you feel uncomfortable in any capacity.

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Hi J. It depends on the child. Especially at your childrens age. They may hug the them sometimes and sometimes they may not. but don't force them.

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We taught our one year old how to give a fist bump. That way if she isn't comfortable hugging someone, she is almost always willing to give a fist bump. She looks so cute doing it, that family and friends are thrilled. They never feel slighted that she didn't give them a hug and she isn't made to feel uncomfortable.

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you can suggested it, you can model it, but I would not force it. I dont think any child should be taught that they must show affection for anyone just because they are realeted, etc. A child should never have to kiss or hug anyone they do not want to.

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I do not know if it should be but we do it all the time. In both our families. Husband and myself. The unfortunate part is that it takes us another hour to hug everyone when we are trying to leave. I told my husband I would like to sneak out once in awhile. Although hugs are nice. On the other hand my former mother in law was/is such a nasty human being that my son started screaming when she wanted a hug. I used to tremble. I did not force that one. And to this day he says he doesnt really visit her.

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I wouldn't feel comfortable requiring my child to hug someone. I suppose if it's about manners, which I can understand, then I would require that they say goodnight and goodbye.

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At the age of 2, when they get tired, it is difficult for them to want to hug every one. I don't feel they should be required, but always suggested. And if not a hug, request that they blow a kiss or high five. As they get older, they will be in the habit, simply because you have modeled the behavior and asked them to. Then they will be more inclined to do so. Who knows, they may also be uncomfortable doing so for any number of reasons, thus, should not be forced. My daughter at 2 would not hug any one. Then last Christmas, she just started hugging every one. She will be 3 in March. They are unsure of things at this age, and will develop into it at their own time when they are comfortable.

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From a grandparents point of view I do not want my grandchildren forced to hug me. When they are little you can start the habit but as they grow allow them to do what is comfortable for them. The grandparent/grandchild relationship grows and may take time as we do not see them every day and they don't understand who we are. Time spent together will create memories that hopefully will result in them wanting to hug us. I also have always had an issue with adults kissing babies and young children on the mouth exposing the child to whatever. I w/much rather a hug and kiss on the cheek.

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Sounds like a great plan!

Forcing them to say goodnite would be ok, but hugs I don't. I feel that by telling my child he doesn't have to touch or let anyone touch him if he doesn't want gives him possesion of his body. That if by some awful chance one day, some adult or authority figure tries to take advantage, he will have the ability to say no or @ least know he's in the right to say no. That he is in control of his body & it's his to do w/ what he will & not even mom or dad can force him to do anything w/ it. My dad is a forcing to hug type & I remember it driving me nuts as a kid & making me uncomfortable. I don't want my kid to feel like he has no control over him.

Hugs are healthy. Your children should be encouraged to hug their grandparents as often as possible as well as aunts and uncles.

I don't think children should be forced to kiss or hug anyone. There are times when my son will say "no kiss" and I won't give him one...I want him to know that he can say no and that I will respect that. He is his own little person who can make decisions and set boundaries about his own body. And I want him to learn that others can do the same and that he has to respect that as well. I always try to think of how I would feel if it was done to me. Would I want to have to hug/kiss everyone good night? :)

I think a child should be able to set his own boundaries when it comes to his body and personal space - however, I definitely agree that politely saying goodnight is a must, as it's good manners. If your child feels affectionate and wants to hug as well, then great!

I think that if a child hugs grandparents goodnight or good bye they grow up to have more respect and love for them. Handshakes are good too.
My parents have 4 grandchildren 2 boys and 2 girls. One of the boys is mine. They have always hugged and kissed my mother goodbye. By with my father, they hugged when they were little but now just the girls give hugs and the boys shake hands. The respect and love all 4 have for there grandparents through the roof. In fact the respect is so high the youngest granddaughters boyfriends saw the way she feels towards her grandparents that he comes over to help them shovel their driveway. My niece and her boyfriend are only Seniors in high school so they are not engaged or living together or any thing like that.
Note: A 4 of the grandchildren are at least 18 years old.
I just believe that if affection is shown in younger years as they are growing they will grow up to give affection back.
That is my to cents. Hugs should be encouraged

Greetings! My husband's family is very touchy -feely and my 3yr old daughter is not. When we visit my in laws, I let my daughter choose if she wants to hug/kiss goodnight or blow a kiss. Since she is not required to do one or the other, some nights she'll opt for the hug/kiss and others will choose to blow a kiss depending on her mood. Another fun option is to establish an extra special routine or signal just between the child and her grandparents. For example, my daughter likes to hold hands with her grandparents while she says her goodnight prayer and then her grandparents kiss each of her hands. She thinks that is really neat and is not as intense as a hug/kiss goodnight. Hope this helps!

that is a very personal form of affection that should NEVER be forced or demanded. My children hug us all the time, we are very affectionate. To family they rarely see, making them hug is just weird. You can demand they respectfully say goodnight to everone, but don't get them use to being forced to do uncomfortable touching. Hugs are something that is only good if given freely. You are teaching them to lie and go against their instincts any other way. It isn't their control muscle! He can make them clean up toys, put cloths in the hamper or ask to leave the dinner table. But don't force them to give affection they don't feel.

When I was teaching, I would ask for a hug, handshake, or high-five for goodbyes. . . whatever the child is comfortable with! I have just started to do the same with my daughter. I do think it is important to acknowledge that the person is leaving, but not important to hug everyone.
To add to this, I have an uncle who makes me feel very uncomfortable and I would rather throw up than give him a hug!!! :)
Best Wishes!

Left up to the child. Been there with the grandparents and the nasty comments.

A very interesting question. Maybe ask yourself if you'd like to receive a hug because its good manners or because someone wants to show you affection. For me, that's what hugs should be - showing feelings. We are very affectionate as parents - and both my boys are in return. But, I take their affection when it comes from them - not when I want it. That goes for any other family member visiting. So, no, for me hugging is NOT about manners. I don't "force" my children to hug anyone. Kids are people, too -its their body and their feelings. Hugs should come from affection. I wouldn't want a hug from anyone b/c they were told to do it or feel obligated out of manners. I want them to want to hug me. :)

no, everyone should get a hug. if the child chooses then someone may get feelings hurt. if you are at the grandparents for the night give a hug since you are in their house and your not there all the time.

i require hugging and consider it respectful

Hi J.! Hugging should never be a requirement. You don't have to touch someone to have good manners.

Remember, an adult can get over hurt feelings over not getting a hug, but we are trying to teach kids that they can have healthy boundaries.

Leave it up to the child! They can give a respectful "goodnight" to the people in the room and still maintain their personal space.

i think that we as parents should absolutely encourage a loving and demonstrative child. my son has always happily hugged everyone when we leave (even strangers, if you're there, you're in the hug line!), and it is something i've encouraged. it was my idea that he start it and let me tell you, it MAKES the grownups' days. my son's great grandfather was one of those "spare the rod spoil the child" types, very bible beater and VERY gruff and unapproachabe, through my mom's childhood and my own. however, when his great-grandson approaches him for his "duty" hug, it just melts us all, including him. it is amazing. i will never regret pushing him (and yes at first it took some pushes, my son is somewhat introverter) into this habit.

HOWEVER. i think this also falls under the category of wanted and unwanted touch. i have also taught my son that if he doesn't want to be touched, whether it's hugs and kisses, tickling, or ANY kind of touch, he has a right to say NO. just like any adult would theoretically have a right to say, 'no thanks i don't want a hug from an adorable sweet three year old'. lol. it's his body. if he's in a bad mood or doesn't feel like it, i don't push it. luckily my son sees my family often enough that he loves them and doesn't have a problem with it. but even when we visited my inlaws in florida he was amazing about giving hugs out, and again, it made peoples' day. i think there's definitely something to be said for encouraging it. but in the end, it does have to be the child's choice. i'd never force him to do it. i just happen to be blessed with a very sweet child who is very eager to pleaze.

I don't feel like a child should be forced to hug either. It makes us adults uncomfortable because we don't want our loved ones to feel unloved by our children. Maybe they can come up with something else instead of a hug - high five, fist pump, a fun handshake or something.

Maybe I'm paranoid, but I think of my daughter in situations with strangers in the future when I'm not there. If there is a person with ill intentions towards my daughter, who whats to hug her and be inappropriately close to her, I want her to know she doesn't HAVE to be affectionate with this person. If you force her to hug and be close to people if she's not comfortable, she may feel like she can not pull away from an ill-intentioned person - she'll feel obligated to be affectionate with them also.

In the end - do what makes your kid comfortable.

I don't think a child should be forced to do something they are not comfortable with. Of course being polite and saying good night is different. It would of course depend on the relationship the child has with the visitor, in our case if my parents were over my kids would rather they put them to bed than me!!

I come from a large Greek family and we hug and kiss everyone. I am going to encourage my children to do the same thing because I think it's respectful, especially when it comes to the older relatives.

I totally believe in affection. A lot of it depends on how you were brought up. I did have my girls, and still do (they are 16 and 6) give their grandparents hugs and even close friends before we leave anywhere. They have come to the point, where they just do it now. What I used to do is pick them up and hug with them and that person. My husband used to be funny about that too, but I do think that in a way, it has helped to develop a lot about their personalities and how they deal with people. They can make the coldest people seems warm. All it takes is a hug from a child. That old saying, out of the mouths of babes, well affection works too. I loved doing the hugging with my kids when they were little and like I said, as they have grown, they just automatically do it now. Keep on huggiing!!

For close family members such as grandparents, I require my children to choose some way to say "thank you, goodbye" whether it be a hug, a handshake, high five, etc. Oftentimes these relatives are babysitting the kids for me, or have made dinner for us, or attended a party we have thrown, etc so I don't think it is too mcuh to ask. There are times we bend the rules if it seems that it will cause more trouble than it is worth. Our close relatives understand.

For friends or others we don't see often or don't know well, I am trying to teach them to say "thank you", "goodbye" and wave. For me it is a matter of respect and manners. But I also realize my children may not feel as comfortable around these people and I have to respect their comfort level and I think it is important to teach them to be able to read their own feelings about people.

I have always let the child decide whether he/she feels comfortable with a hug. If not, I think simply saying "goodnight" should suffice. Some people are more comfortable with physical contact than others & I don't think anyone should be forced into any kind of physical contact they do not want. Especially children, as they may then get the idea that anytime an adult wants any kind of physical contact, they have to allow it. In today's world, you can't be too careful. Maybe try talking to the grandparents at another time and explain that even though you don't have a concern with physical contact with them specifically, you don't want your children to think that they can't say no to an adult who wants physical contact with them. Your children are not at an age where they can determine which adults are OK for physical contact and which are not. Hopefully the grandparents will understand & not be offended but I think ultimately your responsibility is the safety of your children. Good Luck! If only we didn't have to worry about so many things with our children...

I think hugs should be left up to the child. Would you want to be pressured or forced to hug someone? Sending the message that "it's your body and you get to decide" will serve your children well in the future.
For my son we find some way that he is comfortable with like high fives, blowing kisses, etc. HTH

Our two-year-old son gives hugs and kisses when requested "go give Grandma hugs & kisses goodbye" or someone asks "can I have a hug?", but if he decides he doesn't want to (whether it's the person he doesn't want to hug, or he's just mad he's/they're leaving and he refuses to say goodbye), we don't make an issue of it. He's a loving affectionate kid naturally, and we want him to stay that way! If our son doesn't want to hug one of our friends or family members, he gets hugged and loved anyway!

Hugging should be encouraged, but not forced. Forcing a child to hug someone - no matter who - when they don't want to creates bad feelings and possibly resentment and resistance to affection. You want your kids to show affection because they WANT to, not out of a sense of obligation. AND children learn by example as well. A loving, affectionate environment fosters loving, affectionate children. It's not even a matter of manners. Politeness and respect show manners; hugs show love. And if a two-year-old chooses not to hug, no one should take offense or think he's being rude. The adults have to show affection to get affection!

I would not expect or require my child to do anything she doesn't want to do. When my child doesn't feel up to it, I say okay, she's feeling out of sorts. I feel if you do push it upon them to do what they don't feel like doing, you are essentially not being considerate of their feelings. If someone made me do something I didn't want to do, I would totally resent that person. I feel that the child would feel the same way too. Just say to the adults, "Oh, I guess she doesn't want to". The adults will understand.

No. I encourage my kids to hug their close relatives, because I know they like it and they don't see my kids that often. But I don't force it - that's no fun for either person. Some people are different, and some adults really don't care for hugging. I can respect that even though I don't feel that way myself.

I also think (if you end up with one of those kids who really isn't into hugging) that it's not safe to override a child's natural instincts about who gets to touch them and how much.

I do agree that there are things kids must do out of politeness. You must say hello and goodbye and thank you and answer questions for relatives. You should shake hands when they offer. That sort of thing. But if your child isn't into hugging/kissing maybe they can come up with something else that's loving - maybe blowing kisses.

I don't think you should force your child to hug someone if the child doesn't want to. You can say something like "Grandma is leaving now! Would you like to give her a hug good-bye?" if child says "no" then just say. "Ok. Let's wave to her then. Good-bye Grandma!" Make sure the child understands that it is impolite to not say anything as a good-bye, but that he/she doesn't have to hug everyone. Some kids just go through clingy phases where they don't want to be held by someone else because they don't want to be taken away from mom.

So, my opinion -- hugs are "required". Forcing your child to always hug someone is going to make the child resentful. But, you also don't want to make a huge big deal about it or have intense discussions about personal space, because then the child will feel he has to test out not hugging. It's like anything then learn that is not allowed -- they have to test the rule.

It was part of our upbringing to give hugs (and kisses, usually) all around when we were little to just about everyone before bed. It wasn't forced, but just seemed like a natural thing to do. We're a very affectionate family. My 2 1/2 yr old daughter will just come up to me for no apparent reason and give me a big bunch of kisses and tell me she loves me.
I always encourage her, even prod her, to give everyone a hug before bed, but I don't force her if she really doesn't want to especially with someone relatively new to her (she met several new cousins over the holidays). However, grandparents are pretty much a must, Mommy and Daddy too. Even if it's through a teary tantrum,(The tantrum is not related to the kisses and hugs! More like an "I don't want to go to bed" thing) she'll give and receive kisses with those people. But like I said, we're all very affectionate and she's no exception. It is a comforting thing for our family.
Some people I suppose, feel uncomfortable with a lot of physical affection and I don't think you should really push a child who doesn't want to hug someone they don't want to. We teach them about good touches and bad touches...if good touches feel bad, that will be confusing. You've got to trust your instincts. Good luck with this.
I would however, make saying good night mandatory. It's good manners just like please and thank you.

J.,

I think hugs should be encouraged, but not forced. If you children aren't comfortable hugging someone, including yourself, then they should be able to make that decision.

Saying goodbye, however, is polite and respectful and is definately necessary!

I believe this matter should be left up to the child with no pressure from the adults. if a young child does not want to hug an adult for whatever reason the adult should not get offended, they are kids. two year olds will do anything to flex their little "i'm in control" wings! i never pressure my son because i want him to know when he is ok with hugging someone and not to be a people pleaser. if someone makes him feel uncomfortable why force the issue? i want him to embrace his feeling towards people especially when it comes to moments of intimacy between him and adult, no matter who they are. i'm not some pedophile paranoid or anything, i just wish my parents would have allowed me the same control over my body that i allow my son. it would have made a big difference in my young adult life with emotional confusion.
i hope this helps and good luck. it's a phase and most likely your child will grow out of it shortly.

I am in the same situationa as Holly who responded. My son doesn't often want to leave/go to bed if he's having a good time and all of a sudden says, "No" to a hug request and pouts. That's just how he is. I'd say ask if they want to hug and if the child doesn't, then let it be. The adults should understand how children are.

It is up to the parents or the culture of the family.... or the social event, per "manners."

On the other hand, in terms of "strangers" or people my kids do not know well nor feel comfortable with... we do NOT "expect" them to hug/kiss in greeting, anyone.

I don't think it is "manners" and them "having to" do it.... but if it is something that is part of their culture, then they grow up thinking it is just something that is done. Perfunctory or not. Or, in the case of parents or grandparents, it can genuinely be a show of affection/love for that person or them wanting to give a hug/kiss before bed, for example.

For us, we do not "make" our kids do that. Nor especially if they are already too tired or fussy to go through the motions of "having to" do it. Or if we are in a rush to go somewhere.

We don't expect it. But out of respect or affection for their Grandparents, then they do so... or as a matter or nightly "routine" before bedtime. BUT we do NOT force it.

BUT.. I think it is KEY to "teach" a child, that they do NOT "have to" give hugs/kisses to everyone, nor to anyone they do NOT feel comfortable about. They need to recognize their OWN "boundaries" and sense of who or what is a "stranger" or a person they simply get a bad vibe about. Kids need to learn their own judgment about it, too.

So there are 2 sides of a coin on this.

If a person asks for a hug... then, I think it is up to the child....unless they are being just bratty about it, then I don't think it is a big deal. Unless the older generations view it as an affront to basic "manners" and "respect" toward them. But, it is then up to the Parent to explain or make it not so much of a big deal, IF the child at the moment, does not want to give a hug.

In my Husband's family... they hug everyone... upon greeting and leaving... and even if there are 20+ people in the room, they do that. Kids included. It is just something they do. And it can take literally 15 minutes just to leave their house, because of all the hugging and perfunctory good-bye greetings they do. But it is their familial "culture" to do so. But, my kids sometimes feel it is too much... too "forced", and if someone is sick or stinky, or has a pokey beard, they don't want to "hug" that person. And I think that is perfectly fine.

So, I think a child has to "learn" what is appropriate or not as well. And having the parent talk with them about it.

All the best,
Susan

Do what is comfortable to the child...don't force things.

Personally, even if it is a long process, I have them hug/kiss everyone good night. I think it's the polite thing to do. Most of the time, my 3 year old loves it! There are too many adults in this world who don't even say hello when they come in or good-bye when they leave. I think beginning the habit early will be beneficial when they are older. It definitely teaches them good manners. Hope this helps!

When we leave our kids give hugs to their grandparents but not everyone. You never know if thats the last hug that they will get from our children. My kids do it and the oldest is 17. Its a respect and loving gesture from each child. Why not it only takes a second?

My parents made me hug people goodnight like friends when they had parties, I hated it. I think children should be encouraged to hug/kiss goodnight if they want to. My son can be very funny when we leave family gatherings, I think he doesn't want the party to end so he gets reclusive and doesn't want to hug/kiss goodbye, I don't make him. Sometimes he does and sometimes he doesn't. My family members have learned not to be offended by this behavior, it's just 'Jack'....

My daughter is 6 and we don't require her to hug anyone. We are trying to teach our daughter that she has to respect her body and empower her to say no especially when it comes to things that may feel uncomfortable to her. She's the kind of kid who trusts everyone and will hug anyone and go with anyone. On one hand it's nice that she is so loving and trusting but it does worry me that one day she'll hug or go with some stranger and...... don't want to think what could happen. Plus as she ages and becomes a teen and dates, I want her to know that she is ultimately the one in control of her body and not feel pressure to kiss a boy or have sex etc. and I want her know that you don't necessarily have to be physical to show someone you care.

Hugs most definately fall into the realm of autonomy and personhood. We never force our children to hug someone. They need to be able to trust their own instinct of good and bad touch and they also need to learn that no means no by having that lesson affirmed for them.

What we will do when visiting family whom our children may decide not to hug goodnight, is to propose an alternative respectful greeting - perhaps a "high 5" or "blow a kiss".

At 2 years old, they are just figuring this stuff out, give your child space and permission to do so.

J.-
Good question! My son isn't required to hug, but is required to do the requisite Good byes and Thank yous. Most of the time he gives a hug to the females and does whatever testosterone thing men/boys do. I do require hugs with me though :-)

I do not think hugging should ever be required by anyone. Affection should never be forced if it makes someone uncomfortable. I just don't understand making your child uncomfortable just for the comfort of someone else. I have severe sensory issues and for me hugging is actually very uncomfortable for me. My son, who has autism, likes to hug sometimes but we do not ever force him to touch another person if he doesnt want to. I understand that we would like to encourage affection in our children, but in my opinion forcing them to do it isn't right.

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