I have learned this the hard way: the more annoying my kid is acting, the more he needs a big HUG!
Of course, babies need and deserve hugs all the time.Â I’m talking about the bigger ones who call me a Poopy Head and are beyond being carried around, which would, of course, provide numerous hugging sessions throughout the day.Â Years of research into the habits of my own family strongly suggests that the times whenÂ my children act like they hate me the most areÂ highly correlated to when they actually want a hug.
I have become a ninja-like observer of the tantrum. I know to wait out the flailing, yelling, and stomping and look for the down-turned mouth. Once the tirade has turned the corner from MAD to SAD, my kid is ready for some comfort. And a hug is the perfect antidote to all that rage. (See also tips on toddler discipline).
This morning Sawyer, age four, was seething over his breakfast cereal. He had stopped eatingÂ and startedÂ rolling his eyes so hard that I thought they might stick that way. Because I was also making breakfasts/eating/making lunches/doing laundry, I didn’t have enough time or energy to check in with him.
When I sat next to him and asked him why he was so angry, he asked me to guess. Not up for that challenge, I went back to my other jobs and invited him to talk when he was ready. A few minutes passed and he stormed over to tell me he was angry because I called his big brother a “smarty pants” and NOT HIM. He was ready for his hug now.
My older children, now nine and ten (I know!), are independent in so many ways, but they still want hugs. Just not always in front of their buddies. My oldest seems to alternate between thinking I’m the total worst and knowing I’m still the best. He never refuses a hug.