Why I’m Not a Fan of Hugging it Out: A Forced Hug is Not Magic

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When I was little the “hug it out” routine was in full swing. Parents, coaches, and other adults asked kids to hug each other, usually right after a conflict that wasn’t fully resolved. The adult in charge would coerce apologies on both sides and then have both parties hug each other.  It didn’t make sense to me then, and it makes even less sense to me now.

One of the roles of parenting is preparing kids to become well-adjusted adults. The more self-growth I do, the more I learn that setting boundaries, taking time to process and reflect, and design my own social goals is important. Empty apologies and an immediate hug won’t contribute to real growth.

I’m not saying we should encourage kids to be disrespectful to each other or hold grudges, but not every argument needs a clear ending wrapped in a bow. Life is messy. It takes time and space to sort through big feelings. Even if disagreements seem small to us, they are big to our kids.

I’m also not too keen on forcing physical touch. Telling two kids to hug it out sends the signal that someone else can demand a hug and they have to give it to live up to expectations. It is never too early to teach them that consent is everything when it comes to physical interaction. If they want to hug after they make up, that’s great, but I don’t think it’s necessary.

There is no one right way to end a disagreement. Everyone communicates differently. Some people like touch, others spoken words, others notes. Kids should be given choices when it comes to how they communicate; otherwise many of them will be set up to fail if a hug is given as the only right option.

What does your family do?

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