Do you often force kids to hug relatives, friends, or family members? It may sound like an act of kindness but remember you might teach them the wrong lessons about consent. You say, “Give grandma a hug” and your kid does it without protesting. So, is it fine? Hugs can look simple but this act can become stressful and uncomfortable for those who don’t want to give or receive. As a parent, think about the forced choices and how they would make your kid feel. Giving and receiving a hug can have an amplified reaction on the mind and body. Do not push your kid to the tough spot. Understand their feelings so that you can raise happy kids and become happier parents

The Most Common Reasons Why Kids Don’t Give a Hug

  • They don’t like touching and squeezing
  • Do not encourage others to touch their bodies
  • Don’t feel comfortable
  • They prefer another way of goodbye
  • Shy around others
  • Previous bad experience

Here are Reasons Why You Should Never Force Kids to Hug

Hugging is a Personal Choice

Hugging is a Personal Choice

Did you know hugging can result in discomfort? It is an intimate and personal action that doesn’t feel right to everyone. You may think you are teaching them life lessons and helping them socialize. But you fail to realize that the level of sociability differs from one kid to the other. Your kid may develop and change over time but forcing them to do something can only harm them in the long run. You should understand that hugging is good but if it accompanies by discomfort, it doesn’t equate to a healthy activity for anyone. 

Takes Away a Child’s Body Autonomy

Takes Away a Child's Body Autonomy

It may seem harmless for your kid to hug grandma or friend but it can turn problematic. As parents, you need to help children develop body autonomy. Your kids should decide who gets to touch them even at an early age. It gives them control over their own body and feels confident to say no when they don’t feel comfortable. When you force kids to hug someone, you are telling them what to do with their bodies. Then, he/she isn’t allowed to make his/her own decision about who is touching and how they are touching. It takes away their right to consent. They stop learning that they have the right to disallow someone from touching them.  

They Have to Simply Comply with What You Say

Do you want your kid to follow your instructions blindly without deciding what’s right and wrong? Forcing a kid to do something will only teach them to follow everything an adult tells them to do in order to be respectful. 

group of students

Kid’s Needs Don’t Matter at All

Your kids do have self-interests, needs, and wants. If you force them to do something, it will teach them that their personal space and preferences are less important. It makes them feel less important than the person who is going to receive the hug. These people are often close friends, relatives, or even parents. If your kid learns that their needs are less important than the needs of others, it can lower their self-esteem. Few kids may even develop people-pleasing behaviors to keep others happy. 

Being Nice Means Ignoring Their Feelings

A child refusing to hug someone doesn’t mean she/he isn’t being nice. If you still force kids to hug someone, he/she will give an unwanted hug to get applause for being nice, good, and kind. This encourages kids to do things even if it makes them feel uncomfortable. They also start to believe that they should do everything to receive praise from parents and others. 

Forcing Tells Them They aren’t Allowed to Have Boundaries

When a child says ‘No’ to a hug, it means they are setting themselves a boundary. If you still force them to hug, it puts the kid in an uncomfortable situation and sets an example that they can’t have boundaries. It will also teach them that they will lose their respect if they set a boundary. If you continue forcing them, the child may not value their boundaries and will also ignore the boundaries of others. He/she will not respect the feelings and limitations of others too. 

How Can You Help and Support Your Kid? 

father hugging his daughter

If your kid saves their hug for a selected few, it can be ideal to have a conversation about it. You can learn about what they like and dislike. Get to know their personal space so that you can rule out any discomforts they have faced earlier. Do not let unwanted hugs or touches hurt your kids in anyways. 

Teach Kids to Politely Decline a Hug

If you want to support your kid and help them decide how they want to greet someone they meet. You need to teach them that it is okay to say no. 

Most importantly, you need to encourage your kid to stand firm in their decision. Your child doesn’t need to give anyone an explanation for not wanting to give a hug.  Talk to your kids now and see how they feel. Work together to figure out how things will change. Do encourage kids to advocate for themselves no matter what.  

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