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Don’t Force Hug Your Kids! Here's What You Can Do Instead

Don’t Force Hug Your Kids! Here's What You Can Do Instead

Never force hug your kids! Most people probably remember being asked by their parents to hug or kiss a relative when they were young. This was once seen as an act of affection and respect towards relatives. However, today, parents should think twice before asking their child to kiss or hug anyone.

This is in part due to the increasing rate of sexual harassment and assaults. A recent survey revealed that the most number of child sexual harassment and assaults are by their own family members or relatives.

Here are a few pointers that tell you why you shouldn’t force hug your kids.

Don’t force hug your kids: Exposing your child to threats

Forcing children to hug may mean exposing your child to threats.

In most cases of child sexual abuse, the abusers are well known to the child’s family and can hold a very trustworthy position in the family. Relatives are no exceptions. Though surely not all relatives have bad intentions, forcing children to hug them means that skinship between the kids and the relatives is allowed by the parents.

People with bad intentions can regard this as easy access to children. Kids abused by relatives are also afraid to report to their parents because there are possibilities that their parents will trust the abusers more than their own children.

Don’t force hug your kids: It’s an incorrect way to express affection

Being forced to hug a relative can gradually affect a child’s sense of bodily autonomy. Some parents believe hugging is natural and it should not be refused nor should be frightened of.

However, rather than teaching children to love and respect their own body, parents violate their comfort zone. The only lesson that would be learned from forced skinship is that kids should use their bodies to please other people. A healthy child should learn that even their parents don’t own their bodies and that their bodies belong to themselves alone.

So, how to protect your children from a forced hug?

It is important for parents to notice how their kids react to skinship with relatives or any other people. If you detect any discomfort, then they should not be forced to hug or kiss others. In a polite way, you must also inform your relatives that they should not force hug your kids.

Hugs and kisses should be a result of real feelings. Natural affection can’t be forced. However, kids should still be polite and maintain respectful manners to their relatives.

How to erase hurt feelings from relatives?

Parents should make it clear that refusing skinship with relatives does not mean disrespect or bad manners. As endearing as they seem to be, relatives should know their boundaries as well. Instead of expecting a forced hug or a kiss, they can initiate a high-five or a handshake with the kids.

When the kids are offered choices, it will be more natural for them to react to their relatives.

Successfully dealing with the kids and the relatives’ feelings can help avoid any awkwardness in the family’s relationships and dynamics.

Dealing with your kids’ and relatives’ feelings can be difficult. To address this, you can ask your child for a handshake or high-five, if not a hug. Drawing a boundary makes your relatives think twice before asking for any physical contact from your children.

As a parent, you also teach your children ways to avoid any situation healthily. Whenever relatives ask for skinship, ask them “ Would you like to give a hug or would you prefer a handshake?” This helps your child and relative understand that you don’t force your child to hug or be physically affectionate.

Key takeaway

Asking your kids to hug or kiss relatives in greeting may be the norm, but it’s important to remember not to force hug your kids, or ask them to hug or kiss other people. Doing this both opens your kids to potential threats, and affects their sense of bodily autonomy. Instead, suggest a hive-five, or shaking hands.

Learn more about Behavioral and Developmental Disorders here.

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Hello Health Group does not provide medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.


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Accessed on 12/11/2019

Don’t Force Your Kids To Hug And Kiss Relatives During The Holidays, Pediatrician Says/https://www.wbur.org/hereandnow/2018/12/03/forced-affection-holidays-kids-family/

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The Sex-Positive Parent, http://thesexpositiveparent.com/

Accessed on 28/06/2021

Barriers and facilitators to disclosing sexual abuse in childhood and adolescence: A systematic review, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213417302053?via%3Dihub

Accessed on 28/06/2021

“Talking about child sexual abuse would have helped me”: Young people who sexually abused reflect on preventing harmful sexual behavior, https://www.sciencedirect.com/science/article/pii/S0145213417302454?via%3Dihub

Accessed on 28/06/2021

Should you force your child to hug a relative?, https://www.canr.msu.edu/news/should_you_force_your_child_to_show_affection_to_relatives

Accessed on 28/06/2021

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Written by Nikita Bhalla Updated Jun 28, 2021
Fact Checked by Hello Doctor Medical Panel