It gives immense happiness to watch your bundle of joy growing up, able to speak and understand you. And then it happens – suddenly your little one is ditching you in the public. He does not want to be seen with you! With all the love and bonding, you never expected this. It’s upsetting to see your little darling pushing you away and wiping off your kisses. Do you feel devastated that unlike before, he refuses to hold your hands in the mall? Hold on, take it easy! Your kid is not rejecting your love, he is simply growing up!
Read the following points to check why your boy may be displeased with public hugging/kissing
- He’s not a baby anymore: Knock Knock! your child is a school-going kid now. He has a new social life and thereby new expectations to fulfil. He is striving to prove himself to his friends and everyone else that he’s older now and no longer an immature preschooler. He is maturing and expects to be treated as a big boy. Respect his feelings
- Peer pressure: Children pick up the social cues quite early and become aware of what is acceptable in their peer group. Any kind of tenderness and affection such as hugging or kissing considered girly by his peers is a big no-no for him. He’s not rejecting you or your love, he’s busy priming his social image. He does not want to be bullied as a sissy for all the feminine treatment you give him to express your love. Do not kiss him in front of his pals against his wishes, he will cringe with embarrassment and be very annoyed with you
- Is it you?: Check whether there is something about you, which is putting him off? Is it your bad breath, body odor, perfume? Is it the lipstick impression you are leaving behind on his cheek? Does he smell of your girly perfume after you’ve hugged him? Is he huffed with your hair strands left on his sweater?
- He’s not touchy-feely types: Every kid doesn’t like to be cuddled and showered with wet kisses. Some may have aversion to physical contact. Identify whether your child dislikes touching. If so, do not forcefully hug/kiss him, he’ll resist you. Learn new boyish greetings. Try high-five or bumping fists with your child
- Stereotyped: It is most likely that your son adores your husband as his role model. As he grows, he will step into his father’s shoes. He will carefully observe how your husband behaves with others, including you. This may encourage stereotyping i.e. setting particular image or idea. Here, it’s about his public behaviour
Since now you know why your child doesn’t appreciate public hugging/kissing, you will have to look into alternative ways to shower your love on him, without offending his feelings.
Below are a few tips to deal with this change:
- Slip in some humour: OK, your kid refuses to be a cuddly three year old anymore. You are hurt and feel devastated by this rejection, why not express your feelings with a touch of humour? Say “Hey big boy, your poor mommy is thirsty for your hug, will you give her one?” Your boy can comprehend your feelings. Rest is up to him whenever he’s ready for a hug
- Communicate and observe: Try to establish how he’d like to say goodbye to you in public. Perhaps he’d prefer that you just say goodbye warmly to him. You are there to hear him and meet his needs and that is really important. You need to keep an eye on him, learn what embarrasses your kid and then avoid doing it
- Treat him maturely: He may feel that public displays of affection are for much younger children and toddlers – not big kids like him. So treat him like one! Listen attentively to your kid and show that you take his views and feelings seriously
- Respect his decision: It may be a quick “bye” tossed over the shoulder or a handshake; respect your child’s decision. You don’t want unnecessary conflict in the house. Believe him, he he’s old enough to decide how he should be treated
- Negotiate and balance: Establish some guidelines with your child. Maybe affection is limited to the kitchen, the car or a couple of blocks away from the school. This demonstrates healthy self-respect and respect for others. When kids realise that they can negotiate and find a healthy balance, they’ll transfer these essential skills to their current and future relationships
Finally, you need to relax and watch your kid evolve. Although this seems very disappointing now, your son will definitely make up for the missed hugs/kisses as he grows up. Remember he still needs you. Hug him when he’s perturbed. Respect his space and go easy on him and yourself!