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What are your rules when your kids don't want to hug, kiss, or talk to someone?

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I Bribe My Kid So She'll Show Affection

Posted by Jeanne Sager on June 23, 2012 

group hug
Group hug!
I keep hearing about the day my kid will start witholding affection from friends, and it fills me with dread. I'd like to say "not my kid," but I'm already seeing the signs. Her grandmother calls, and she won't get on the phone. We visit my grandfather, and she doesn't want to go anywhere near him.

So I have opted to do the only thing I know will work. I bribe my kid to show affection.

Not all the time. For the most part, if she doesn't WANT to turn it on right this second, I give her a pass. As CNN's Katie Hetter said in an article about her daughter's cuddle strikes just this week, "I figure her body is actually hers, not mine."

I couldn't agree more. We spend all this time teaching our kids to avoid "bad touch," with words like "your body is your own." Forcing them into a hug or a kiss is confusing and sort of cruel.

Which is why I won't force her to make an old man feel loved with a hug or get on the phone to talk to her grandmother when she's really not in the mood. But I will throw in a little enticement to sweeten the deal. If she takes it, that's her choice, right?

I firmly believe that part of growing up is realizing that sometimes we do things we don't exactly "want" to do for someone else's pleasure. Not always, but sometimes ...

Any good relationship requires give and take. My husband goes to the farmers' market with on a Sunday (which he hates). I make him meatloaf for dinner even though I'm a vegetarian.

For kids, more often than not, all it takes to make someone else happy is a little of their time. My 90-something-year-old grandfather would be heartbroken to know that his great-granddaughter doesn't want to give him a hug. And so I ask. And then I offer a trip to the ice cream stand or a new magazine. I won't put up anything I wouldn't give her otherwise, but I do need to make it "worth" the sacrifice if she's going to bite.

If she doesn't bite, I drop it. There's only so much I can push. But that doesn't mean I won't try again another day.

I try because I want her to see the pleasure she can give other people by putting herself out just a little bit, but I want to balance it. I don't want her to feel tortured. The bribe -- or maybe I should just call it a reward -- is what eases it for her. She isn't "tortured" because she had the choice, and she gets something good out of it.

And so does the person on the other end. The grandmother who gets to hear her granddaughter's voice after a long, hard day at work. The old man who gets a kiss on his papery cheek.

Her body is her own, but that doesn't mean she can't learn to use it for good.

What are your rules when your kids don't want to hug, kiss, or talk to someone?

by on Jun. 25, 2012 at 4:59 AM
Replies (11-17):
by Sonja on Jun. 25, 2012 at 3:02 PM

 We don't force our kids to give any touchy feely hugs and or kisses.  I've found that kids have a better instinct for something not being quite right with someone and I've learned their instincts are usually dead on too.  They do understand the differences between their instincts and them just not liking to give hugs and or kisses just because they don't like doing that anymore.

by on Jun. 25, 2012 at 3:18 PM
Quoting Moma3boyz:

I've also learned to live by example. I too a friendly hug w/ the grand parents when we arrive for parties so the kids follow suit. My oldest is very affectionate and loves to give hugs and kisses, but my youngest almost never liked to. I remember saying he was teething for YEARS when he was a baby/toddler. Everyone wanted to snuggle but he liked his space and I didn't want to force him. Now he grudgingly gives hugs to family, but it's half-hearted at best. Lol, that's just how he is, he doesn't even like to hug ME!

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by Platinum Member on Jun. 25, 2012 at 3:42 PM

I would never want to be forced to hug or kiss someone, so I would never coerce my kids to do it, either.

by on Jun. 25, 2012 at 4:25 PM

 We never pushed our daughters to show affection if they didn't want too. They are very intuitive when it comes to knowing whether someone has genuine feelings or not.

However we do expect them to be respectful to the person, because everyone is an individuals.

 I don't agree with bribing a child to show affection or talking to someone that they don't feel comfortable around.

Shari, wife to John 4/88, mom to Heather 1/77,Nyssa 4/89, Michaela 8/94

by on Jun. 25, 2012 at 4:28 PM

I would I wanna make my kids hug or kiss someone they dont wanna hug nor kiss? I think there are just some people that you may not feel like hugging.

by on Jun. 25, 2012 at 4:37 PM

I personally find personal space very important.  Growing up in my family, we didn't hug (or frankly show affection in anyway, we were just strangers who happened to live in the same house, and scream at each other ALOT).  I have tried to make it a point NOT to pass this down to my kids.  Having said that, I also DO NOT make my children hug, kiss, or even say "I love you" to anyone.  I don't accept disrespectful behavior from my children, but I won't make them do anything that makes them feel uncomfortable.  I remember shortly after I married my DH, my MIL said that DH's grandmother had never shown her physical affection, and she didn't want to make me feel the way she felt.  The irony is, I would prefer she never try to touch me, let alone hug me (I would be tickled if she'd stay on the other side of the room), I will never tell her this, but I won't make my kids do anything I am uncomfortable doing myself.  If she gets offended about that, well that's her problem.

by on Jun. 26, 2012 at 7:54 AM

I think a lot depends on age. I never make my 2.5 year old hug or go near anyone he does not want to. But if her were in high school and grandma called on the phone to talk ... I think that would be different. Young children need to not be pushed beyond those boundaries. they need to have them established in their own comfort  zone.

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