Parenting Connection: Don’t Force Holiday Hugs and Kisses

Parenting Connection

It’s Parenting Connection Tuesday and 6 News is here for you with tips, strategies, and helpful reminders from local child development experts on how we can be better parents and guardians.

Today’s topic: Holiday Hugs and Kisses.

Thanksgiving is next week — and December holidays will soon follow, that’ll likely include a lot of parties, both public and private, with plenty of friends and family — that despite their bond with you may still be strangers to your kids.

Child experts say, forcing your children to hug and kiss people, even relatives, may backfire, not only by potentially causing a scene because they refuse to do it and feelings get hurt, but also because it’s sending mixed signals of being cautious around people they don’t know.

The holiday season is full of socialization, that MSU child development expert Kendra Moyses says, can be a bit overwhelming when your kids are around people they don’t know well and affection is expected. “I think during the holidays this topic comes up more because you are seeing lots of relatives and friends that you don’t see on a regular basis. One of the things we want children to be prepared for is to make decisions about their own body. When they are forced to hug or kiss a relative, it’s sending a mixed-message that they don’t have control of their own body, and that can become dangerous in other situations when they are not with trusted relatives.”

Here are a few ways to lessen the stress when it comes to holiday affection:
*Talk to your kids about who they may meet, describe them, and your connection to them
*Talk to loved ones, especially family, your’re allowing your kids to choose when to provide affection, and to not get their feelings hurt
*Offer alternatives, like a fist bump, a handshake, or a fun way to say hello

Child experts say, avoid forcing affection this holiday season — plus, it’ll be a lot more meaningful when your kids decide to give it on their own.

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