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29 Comments

  1. Oh I love Easy to Love, Difficult to discipline. I should probably re-read it. We don’t force our kids to hug relatives for the same reason.

  2. Christina TheresJustOneMommy says:

    As a child who was very shy, I love this! I am always trying to reassure my husband that the kids don’t have to hug Mamaw and Papaw if they don’t feel like it. Trying this this season!

    1. Emma Craig says:

      I’m the same exact way! My daughter isn’t shy, but I always was, so she doesn’t have to hug anyone she doesn’t want to. I LOVE this solution!

  3. Funnily enough I invented this, too! ? I’ve been using this phrase with other people’s kids for years, and it works every time – kids who feel they don’t know me well are always happy to high five me. It’s especially good for early teens who we may have been used to hugging as younger children – their newfound ultra-self-conscious body awareness means they may no longer wish to hug, or that hugging just isn’t cool any more.

    So I can say from years of experience that this phrase truly is a winner.

  4. Tonia McLinn says:

    What a great way to teach children thatthey are in control! I wish my mother knew this when my brother and I were little kids. We HAD to hug all the grandparents and aunts, uncles great aunts & great uncles. IF we hesitated we got in trouble.
    We did not see these people all the time, maybe once a year, sometmes not for years!
    I remember when my oldest daughtr was born and when she started walking and was able to make her prefference known my mom wuld get irritated with her for not wanting to h ug and or kiss certain family members!! I put my foot down. I was touched by these people (not all men either) and I didn’t want them touching my children!
    If my kids didn’t like someone I didn’t force it. IT went for both kids and adults. Kids can be just as or more inappropriate then adults. I learned that the hard way also.
    My oldest daughter posted this, thank God!! And my youngest read it.
    It is such an happy and positive artical but it brought back so many bad memories from my childhood I just has to share how important it is to teach our children these things!!
    I think I will see if one of our local book stores has the book!! So I can give it to them as a Christmas gift.
    THank you so much sharing this with the world! IT is important to empower our chicldren and for them to know that they do have some power over what goes on!

  5. Maybe it’s just me or reading this in mobile but holycow! ads much? This page was layed out so crappy and hard to read..i had hard time following it with all the text breakup for ads. Going to avoid this blog in the future this is terrible.

    1. rather keep secret says:

      ok sorry, but do you have to be rude much? I totally understand I hate ads too, but no need to be rude about it! Like what we all learned in kindergarten, if you don’t have anything nice to say, don’t say it at all!

  6. Jen Richard says:

    When I taught we practiced Conscious Discipline, yes it’s very good. We had a ton of different greetings 3,4 and 5 years olds get really into it. My kids are super friendly and hug/high five/fist bump EVERY family member even the dogs lol…. however they have cousins who are shier and the hubbs and I remind them of that, so I’ll tell my kids to give their cousins a “Friendly Hello” that’s usually with a wave and a high-five…

  7. Add Hello for avoidance of all physical contact and this is what we do. Hello adds the ultimate consent and that is whether the child wants to make physical contact at all. A polite Hello, nice to see/meet you, should be sufficient for just about any occasion.

    1. Great point, Billy. This is a catchy phrase that will work well for some families, but a simple “hello” is of course always an option!

  8. I like your writing, but I’m not sure if anyone has ever talked to you about the fact that it is really difficult to get into the flow of reading something when all of the paragraphs only consist of one sentence. It messes with continuity and makes it hard to stick with the story. I’m honestly not trying to be rude, but it’s a struggle to get through sometimes and your points are really good.

    1. Susan, I appreciate you taking the time to leave a comment. That just happens to be my writing style after being a professional writer and editor for nearly 20 years. The good news is that the Internet is bursting at the seams with all different styles of writing, so I’m sure you’ll happen upon someone whose style is more to your liking!

    2. That’s an interesting comment to me, since I trained in creative writing at University and, for three years, my tutors’ most consistent criticism of my style was that it was draining to read because I had way too many words in each sentences, and that I relied too heavily on commas. As you can see I’ve yet to address this problem ;)

  9. Beth Nepaial says:

    I offer ‘Pinky Hugs.’ If a child is reticent to make contact, I just say, “Pinky Hug?” and offer them my crooked pinky. They always ‘hug’ back with their pinky! And it’s playful and won’t make them feel guilty or uncomfortable. It usually makes them laugh, and probably feel relieved.

    1. Beth, I love this! Great idea.

  10. Hugs, handshake or high five is a great phrase to work with. When my daughter was small and we visited extended family that she was unfamiliar with, her father insisted she should give hugs. I told him she’s not comfortable with hugs to those she is unfamiliar with and she should never be forced to give hugs. So, I taught her to throw a hug! It was easy, the family members loved it and my daughter felt much better with this technique. She is 9 years old now, but will still throw hugs to those she’s not familiar with, it’s a win win for everyone and no one is left feeling uncomfortable, especially my daughter!

  11. Thank you for sharing. I read another article about this yesterday. Printed the coloring page for my littles and husband and I to talk about and do together. My husband tries to force our little ones to hug and kiss his parents, but I’m not okay with it and I can see that they aren’t either. Going to share this article with him as well. Great post.

  12. My 1 year old does “noses” basically she rubs noses with people , she’s just started blowing kisses too.

  13. As a fairly new Nanna I totally agree with this article. I never forced my children to kiss people, whether family or friends. I also taught them about what it felt like to feel uncomfortable and what to do. eg. Tell someone!!! When they were older we taught our kids that at sleep overs (which were few) or outings away from us, if they felt uncomfortable for whatever reason all they had to do was call and we would come and pick them up. We only had to do it once from memory. We have got to realise that our children have a voice to be heard and need safe people.

  14. Dottie Nash says:

    As a grandma, I would love this as an option. I hesitate to go up to my grandchildren (that I see 1-2 times a year. I realize they don’t know me and I don’t want to scare them, But I don’t want to ignore them or act unfriendly.

    1. Yes, as a Grandma, I also respect my grandchildren’s boundaries and never ‘force’ a hug. That creates safety and helps us connect even more. I love your (and other’s) suggestions for alternatives. Thanks!

  15. Now we need a grandmother protection sign. DONT jump all over the woman, for goodness sake. Don’t yell in her ear. Don’t pull at her clothes or squeeze her arthritic hand. Thank goodness I have perfect g’children would never do any of those things, and they don’t need a cheat sheet to remind them, either.

  16. Some great ideas!

    When I used to babysit, quite a few of the kids wanted hugs and kisses when I tucked them into bed, something I didn’t feel comfortable with. So instead we started doing ‘butterfly kisses’ on the back of each other’s hand (where you flutter your eyelashes across the skin) and they loved it, it was still special and personal without being too intimate. Plus it tickled and was funny and it was cute to imagine a little butterfly, lol, so it always put them in a happy mood before bed

  17. But isn’t there a difference between accepting genuine affection from a loving family member and thinking everyone is a predator. My daughter won’t let me touch her and lord knows I have no intentions other showing my love.
    What hurts more is that she hugs and is very touchy with her friends.
    So I’m supposed to follow her love language and do what she wants and needs but what about my love language? I’m just left in the dirt to glean what I can.

  18. I do not kiss family members, I don’t really know why but I don’t want it.
    It might be because most of my family are women, and there are times when I’m the only guy.
    My mother says it might be because one of my grandmothers used to lick her finger and then touch my food and do other grose stuff as a joke, and that i got some kind of phobia from that.
    I have no memory of that but I want to get over this.
    Does anybody have tips or does anybody know someone who got over this?

  19. I feel like I’m missing something. Does the kid just say all three and let the adult pick? Doesn’t that defeat the purpose of the kid not wanting to hug when they give that as an option to the person? Are the kids just supposed to say whatever of the three they want to do?

    1. Hi Andrea! The child is the one who gets to pick what they’re comfortable with :) What works best is to practice ahead of time before that moment, then in the moment you can give your child a gentle, quiet reminder that they’re in the driver’s seat. If you really want to go above and beyond, you can get relatives on board ahead of time by teaching them the phrase and encouraging them to ask the child what they prefer. Hope that helps!

  20. Quiana Al-Islam says:

    Love, love, love this mantra, Kelly! Hug, handshake or high-five?! What if they say neither?!

  21. I just met three young cousins forvthe first time. The girls are between 7 and 11. Although my family is very demonstrative, I was wondering how I should handle them without coming off as rude and cold or making them feel uncomfortable.. I am so glad I read your article. Great advice!!