The Reckoner!

Should I Make My Toddler Hug People He Doesn't Want To?

Tons of parents just had to deal with this one I bet.

My shy little guy is 2 years old. He's not quite old enough yet to remember meeting Grandma and Grandad last year when he was 1. As far as he's concerned, they are complete strangers who kind of smell funny and seem to know him, which is weird. 

When we get to their house, Grandma goes in for the hug right away, little guy backs up behind my legs. She asks him to give her a hug, he clutches my legs. I tell her it takes a little while for him to warm up to people and that he might be ready for a hug later. She tells me a hug is the polite thing for little guy to do and goes after him again. Little guy submits, but is stiff, unhappy, and looks like a deer in headlights. The moment passes, though, and there seems to be no lasting damage. He's running around playing with Grandad in no time.

Clearly Grandma's decision to hug little guy after I hinted it was not ok right now was a problem. We talked about her not going behind my back (literally!) after a parenting choice had been made.

But we could not agree about whether or not I should have encouraged little guy to hug her when she asked. I say no, if he's not comfortable, it's his body; she says yes, it is the polite thing to do as a grandchild, and how will he get comfortable with her if I always let him hide?

Who is right?

Reckoning Results!
No Hugs
High fives for now
It's what Grandmas do
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Reckoning Comments!

Caveat here -- I don't have any kids.  I do have nieces and nephews, which is great because I get all of the perks of having kids with none of the responsibilities.  Uncledom for the win!

Anyway, having established that my opinion is completely unqualified, I'd say enourage the little guy to give his Grandma a hug.  It's good for kids to have positive contact with the family, and it's not like you have to go so far as to march him up there by gunpoint.

See, I don't have kids either, but here's where I disagree with Dan. I'm not sure if this teaches the kid positive contact with the family, or that the family is going to force him to do something he doesn't want to do. I think kids should feel in control over what happens to their own bodies, no matter how old.

Plus, he probably would have warmed up to Grandma as soon as presents were brought out.

I'd say encourage, but don't force.  But, I also don't have kids.  Let's hear from the parents!  Where are all the parents?

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