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The Perfect Hugging Rule For Siblings. Rules to keep the peace among siblings with different hugging preferences.
McKenna is a hugger. She loves to get in there with a big, full hug that takes your breath away. Bonus points if she can lift you off the ground and really squeeze all of that air out. Brayden is not a hugger. Even as a baby, he did not love to be cuddled or hugged. Bonus points if you hug is a brief side hug.
McKenna is an extrovert and loves to display her affection for others anytime, any place. If she hasn’t seen you for a bit, and a bit can be a couple of hours, her affection will be shown to greater capacity. Brayden is an introvert who is private. He isn’t a hugger in private and definitely not out in front of the world.
So you can probably imagine how well things were going between these two for a while.
To paint a picture, Brayden would come home from school upset because McKenna had seen him out at recess and literally tackled him from behind in order to give him a big hug. He never even saw her coming and in her enthusiasm, she literally took him down. I would tell her to not hug him at school, but she seemed almost unable to contain herself.
There are a lot of tricky paths to navigate in this situation.
- As people, I think we need to be willing to step outside of our comfort zones to express love to our loved ones in the ways they recognize. This is especially true as a parent, and I fully see one of my jobs as a mother to be to raise my children to be able to be great parents some day. With that thought, I think Brayden should learn to hug those close to him. As a dad, his children will want hugs. Ha!
- On the flip side, we need to be able to recognize the ways others show love to us and learn to appreciate and express those emotions. We can’t force our wants and even needs upon other people. With that in mind, I think McKenna should respect Brayden’s non-hugging style and learn to appreciate the ways he does show love.
- I don’t want to force my children to give physical affection if they don’t want to. This is an overarching concept. I don’t want them to ever think they must be physical with any other human in any way.
- Along that same line of thinking, I also want my children to learn to respect that no means no. That is as a giver and a receiver of affection. If someone doesn’t want the physical affection you are trying to give, you stop. If you don’t want the physical affection someone is trying to put on you, you have the right to demand they stop.
With all of that said, I do think it is important for Brayden to learn to be willing to show affection through a simple hug. He will one day be a father and a husband, and he needs to be comfortable enough to show his immediate family members love through hugs. Plus, research has shown hugging to be good for your health, so it can’t hurt to add a couple of hugs in his day!
McKenna also needs to practice self-control and back off of hugging others when they don’t want it. She also needs to learn the boundaries on appropriate times and places for her monster hugs.
Our Family Hugging Rule
This set of rules really only had to be applied to our two extreme children to help their relationship out.
- No hugging at school or public unless the other person likes to hug at school. At school and in public, individual preferences must be respected. Brinley will happily hug at school. Kaitlyn will at times. Brayden never wants to. McKenna is always down. Per our rule, you respect the other person’s wishes for hugging out in public.
- At home each day, you must give your sister a ten second hug. This feels like an eternity to Brayden and a blip to McKenna. Brinley also likes to get her ten second hug from Brayden each day. They are limited to one hug a day. The girls can’t take more than one and Brayden must give one.
- The ten seconds must be counted in real-time. No double-time counting (ahem, Brayden) and no half-time counting (ahem, McKenna).
- You need to have a a good attitude about the hug. No shoving your sister off of you once ten seconds is up. Make it a nice hug and don’t be grumpy about it. A bad attitude can result in you giving a twenty second hug if mom or dad decides your attitude needs improvement.
- You need to give a respectful hug and not squeeze the life out of your sibling. Just a nice, normal hug is all that is needed (and allowed).
- Do not try to take a longer hug than is your allotment. If you start to consistently do this, you can lose your hug for a few days.
We have had this set of rules for over a year now and it has worked really well. There is a balance we strike in families. We give and take. We sometimes do things we don’t love to do. We sometimes do less of what we do love to do. We learn to find a compromise when we don’t see eye to eye. These are all great skills to learn in the safety of a family unit where we have unconditional love and parental supervision and guidance.
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