This article is about pressuring your kid to hug people and respect boundaries.

It’s an easy thing to do. You’re ready to get home and some family member or friend is pressuring your kid for a hug before you leave. Your kids got a pouty look plastered all over their face; arms crossed tight saying “no” over and over again. But, they just keep saying “Come on! One little bye-bye hug! Please?!”

So, you nudge your kid over there and promise them some kind of something if they’ll just give them a hug so you can finally leave. Please stop doing this.

I’m all about teaching your kids respect and manners. That’s a given. They should be polite, say please and thank you, and use their napkin instead of their sleeve. But, asking your child to do something with their body that they don’t want to do is a different story.

child forced to hug people

Making your child hug their grandparent doesn’t seem like such a huge deal. But, it is. At such a young age children are just starting to learn what their body is all about.

It’s our responsibility as their parent to teach them that their body belongs to them and them only. They do not ever have to do anything with their own body that they don’t feel comfortable with; Even if that includes hugging grandma.

By forcing them to hug anyone when they don’t want to, you’re telling them that their comfort and bodily autonomy don’t matter. Sure, now it’s only a hug with a family member.

But, over time, you’re instilling in them that they don’t have a choice. When an authority figure says “give a hug” you give a hug.

One of the most important lessons we will teach our children is consent. Do not touch people without their permission and do not allow other people to touch you without permission.

It’s a simple concept, but can be difficult to instill in little minds. So, you can see where a small child could find it confusing if you say “Don’t let anyone touch you when you don’t want them to, but you have to hug your grandma whether you like it or not.”

Whether it seems this way or not, this can roll over into bigger problems as they get older. You’ve now shown your child that their consent isn’t required once an authority figure tells them otherwise. We often don’t realize that we, as their parent, may not always be that authority figure.

Check this out: Body Boundaries, Child Consent, and Respect: Teach children about body ownership, respect, feelings, choices, and recognizing bullying behaviors

child forced to hug a woman

It may be a boyfriend/girlfriend or a boss. But, it’s more than likely that they will be forced to stand up for their own body at some point in their life.

If they’ve gone their whole life being taught that their comfort isn’t always important, and someone “above” them can make their bodily decision for them this can obviously cause a real problem.

Teaching consent isn’t just about their own body either. It also includes other people, too. You have to give consent to be touched and receive it to touch others.

You don’t allow your child to go around hugging and kissing other kids when they’re screaming no. Tell your kid that they don’t want to be hugged right now.

You ask if you can hug them and if they say no, you keep your hands to yourself.

Easy enough, right? But, when you allow grandma (or whomever) to go in for that hug without your child’s permission; well, you can obviously see what you’re teaching your child at that point.

Not only did you force them to do something with their own, personal body that they weren’t comfortable with, but you’ve also now shown them that consent wasn’t even required. If their bodily autonomy doesn’t matter, why should anyone else’s?

Check this out: Hug Machine Hardcover – Picture Book

crying child forced to hug a man

So, how do we deal with this situation? It’s simple. Ensure that your child understands that they never have to do anything with their body that they’re uncomfortable with, and tell your family or friends to back off. Seriously.

Explain to them that while they may REALLY want that hug before you leave, your child said no and that’s the end of it.

Make them aware that it’s not personal, but you’re trying to teach your child an important lesson about their body and comfort level, and, quite frankly, you’d appreciate it if they didn’t force a hug on them.

You would never allow anyone to force you to hug someone else.

So, why force your kids? They may be little, but their bodies deserve the same respect as anyone else’s.

Instead of nudging and pressuring them to hug Aunt Sally on your way out of the Christmas party, teach them to give a polite, “No, thanks.”, and move on.

Aunt Sally may have her feelings hurt for a bit, but you’ve taught your child an invaluable lesson. Their body belongs to them and no one else. Do not let anyone tell you otherwise.

Read more parenting tips on the links below.

You Are So Much More Than Pretty: raising confident kids

10 Best Parenting Tips For Kids Behaviours