Keeping Kids Safe: Don't Force Affection

Most people would agree that it is adorable when toddlers begin giving hugs and kisses.

Even with the right motivation, parents can get in the habit of forcing children to give hugs and kisses to people when they would rather not. Unfortunately this can send a message that we give affection because it is polite not because they do actually feel affectionate at that time for that person. As we attempt to teach children healthy boundaries this conflicting information may suggest to the child it is okay to touch people and have people touch them (hugs and kisses) when they are not comfortable with the touch or the person.

Parents are encouraged to make hugs and kisses optional. Instead, give children options such as handshakes or high-fives as a way of showing affection to people or other children.

Source: Don’t Force Affection, Children’s Home Society of South Dakota