Everyone that knows my children, knows that they’re naturally happy, especially my 4 year-old is a bubbly little girl that captivates who ever she comes across with, with her smile and sense of humour. Having said this, we have recently found ourselves in a not so pleasant situation, which has taken me to share with you today what I think people should know about giving cuddles to other children, not of your own.
Our little J loves to play and fool around, jump over our shoulders, give hugs and kisses, but that is with us, mummy, daddy, little E and closest family members and a few “chosen” others. The other day though, we were at a familiar place to her, showing our family a bit of Manchester, when we came across two acquaintances, one of them, a young girl that was being quite friendly with J, and as I said before, she was playing along with her, giving her high fives and all these sort of games. Then she suddenly lifted her up. In the beginning, our little one was fine, just enjoying the cuddle, and we were right there, holding a conversation with the other person, so nothing to worry about.
After a few seconds, I noticed on her face that the cuddle was lasting for too long, she wasn’t alright and she wanted to come down. So I kindly said, “oh, we need to go now..and bla bla,” to see if this person would just get the hint and let her go. I didn’t want to sound rude, but J was getting more upset and she looked at me right into my eyes and said in Spanish “Mummy, I want to come down” So that was it. I said again, but this time with a firm voice, I extended my arms to get my child back, “sorry, but we need to go, J please, come down” so finally, this girl let her go. I know J wasn’t alright with the situation because right before leaving the woman tried to high five with her and this time she didn’t want to.
You might think this is quite silly, but seeing how my child was gently being forced to accept a cuddle from a not-so-stranger, and seeing myself in the situation of not wanting to sound too abrupt but at the same time looking after my child’s emotional welfare, was a quite upsetting and frustrating experience. I know, I know, I understand there was no harm on this woman’s cuddle, that she was just trying to be friendly with a cute little 4 y.o. but NO means NO, and that applies to everyone, especially our little ones.
People assume sometimes that kids are supposed to give you kisses and hugs, just because they’re little, because it’s cute and polite in many cultures, to greet with a kiss, or whatever, but to all adults out there, DON’T ask for them, DON’T force the situation, PLEASE. Kids are still individuals who deserve our respect. You don’t go out on the street and start forcing a grown-up to let you lift them up. You will probably get punched if you try to do that. In some situations it will flow naturally, and the little one will enjoy the cuddle, but, it is better to be safe, and stop begging for love, just earn it, and if they want to, they will give it to you.
Sam and I have decided that our approach to this, for future occasions, will be to teach J to not accept cuddles from anyone that she doesn’t know that well, even if we are right there with her, unless it’s a family member or a close friend that we already know. She is old enough now to understand this and raise her voice out there, cause since we cannot control other people’s behaviour, at least we can show our children how to be more cautious.
What are your thoughts on this? Have you been on a similar situation? How did you react to it?