Parents urged not to force their children to hug relatives 4 years ago

Parents urged not to force their children to hug relatives

"Give granny a kiss."

As families come together over the festive period, parents forcing their kids to show affection to relatives has come under the spotlight.

"She Doesn’t Owe Anyone a Hug. Not Even at the Holidays" - that's the message from the Girl Scouts of America in the run-up to Thanksgiving in the US.

The organisation says it wants to remind parents that kids can get the wrong idea about consent and physical affection and claims forced hugs can have long-term effects.

It argues that a child believing they 'owe' someone a hug "can set the stage for her questioning whether she 'owes' another person any type of physical affection when they’ve bought her dinner or done something else seemingly nice for her later in life."

"The lessons girls learn when they’re young about setting physical boundaries and expecting them to be respected last a lifetime, and can influence how she feels about herself and her body as she gets older," said developmental psychologist Dr Andrea Bastiani Archibald.

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The message comes after weeks of public conversation about consent and sexual misconduct.

Instead of forced hugs, the Girl Scouts has other suggestions to show love or gratitude.

"Saying how much she’s missed someone or thank you with a smile, a high-five, or even an air kiss are all ways she can express herself."