Wednesday, September 18, 2013
Power of the Hug
I don't know when the power struggle began, but lately my husband has been asking for hugs from our preschooler and she flat out says, 'Not right now Daddy.'
I kind of wasn't paying attention when it all started, because it was usually when he was leaving for work and in my house that means breakfast time, which is complete chaos. And then it was when he was coming home from work asking for a hug, and I was either about to cook dinner or just finished feeding the girls = more chaos.
But I soon started to notice a few times that our daughter was shrugging him off. I felt bad for him so badly wanting affection from his little girl and her turning it away. So I sat there and said to myself, "Okay, she is 3 years old, I think she is getting a little bit too much power here." Side note, my daughter has always been a huge momma's girl. First born, what can I say?
Now, I totally agree that you should teach your child that hugs and kisses are okay if you feel like giving or receiving one, and if you don't, then that's okay too. I have written before about how kids can say 'no' to hugs and should not be punished for it. It's their right to give and receive them.
But my husband asking his 3 year old daughter if she wants a hug every time my he wants to give or receive one, seemed a little absurd. Sorry husband if you are reading this right now, but I had to go there.
So I talked to him about it later that night and told him that by asking her over and over again if she wants a hug, might be giving her way too much power for a 3 year old. I am all for giving choices and empowering children and increasing their self-esteem, etc. But sometimes, we have to be in control and have the power. I told him he could take or leave my advice (because how hard is it to be married to a child counselor, right?) but he actually thought it made sense and was going to try it the next day.
So I told him to just matter of factly give her a hug, whenever he felt the natural urge to hug. Not to overthink it. And it worked! He went over to her as he was leaving for work and she was playing with her dolls, gave her a hug and she was happy and went on playing. No crying about it and no more power struggles.
We both agreed too that if at any time she says "no", to just reflect, "okay, you don't want a hug right now, that's okay, thanks for telling me" and move on with your day.
Giving too many choices to young children is overwhelming for them. It can cause them to feel out of control, the exact opposite of your goal. Children need limits and they need boundaries to help them feel safe. Plus, too much power can create unnecessary struggles and tantrums. Ha, reminds me of the classic line "but why NOT mommy?...Because I said so!!"
Posted by Kira at 8:35 PM