May 16, 2022

Ask Margaret: Should I Force My Kids to Give Hugs?

We all have relatives who demand big bear hugs when saying goodbye. That may all be well and good for some kids, but what if our kids just aren’t huggers? Margaret discusses how to protect kids’ autonomy while keeping the peace with Grandma.

One of our listeners asked:

How do you navigate responding to family members who demand hugs and kisses from kids? My husband’s family is full of huggy-kissy people. When leaving after a visit, my in-laws lay it on hard with their requests (which feel more like demands) for my 3-year-old to give them a goodbye hug and kiss. Sometimes she doesn't want to, and if she doesn't want to, I don’t force her. But she gets a lot of pressure from the grandparents expecting the physical affection. I want my children to feel comfortable but don’t know how to get all family members on board without hurt feelings.

Margaret discusses how to make a plan for saying goodbye to friends and family that works for your child and doesn't invoke too much objection or conflict from the other party.

Here are the links to the resources Margaret mentions in the episode:

Meghan Holohan for Today: "Why experts say you shouldn't make your kids kiss relatives at Thanksgiving"

Don't Hug Doug by Carrie Finison

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