Ah! the power of a hug! You know how good it feels to be on the receiving end of a hug. It envelopes you, contains you, grounds you and makes you feel good inside. I am referring to a loving hug from a trusted person – just to clarify! A hug can help soothe you when you are sad or it can express support, joy, or sorrow. It is also a great diffuser – let me show you.
Here’s the scenario: A story by Mary Wardlow taken from Teaching Parenting the Positive Discipline Way by Lynn Lott and Jane Nelson.
“My daughter Madisyn, who is a wonderfully strong-willed 6-year-old child, didn’t want to get up and get ready for school one morning. Being a strong-willed individual myself I could sense a battle of wills brewing – though I was determined to avoid it. I repeatedly asked her nicely to get up and get herself ready and I picked out her clothes so that she could move a little faster. Still, she refused to move. I reminded her, still nicely, that the bus would be at our house soon; and if she didn’t get dressed she was going to miss it. She sat up and looked at her clothes and screamed, ‘I don’t want to wear that!’
Her tone was so nasty, I found it hard to keep myself composed, but I went to her room and picked out 2 other outfits so she could choose which one she wanted to wear. I announced, ‘I laid out 3 sets of clothes. You need to pick one and get dressed.’ I had almost made it to the bedroom exit when she fired back ‘I WANT 4!’ I was so angry at that point, and what came next surprised both of us.
I walked over to her and said, ‘Madisyn, I am going to pick you up, hold you, hug you and love you. When I am done you are going to get up, choose and outfit and get dressed.’ When I picked her up and put my arms around her I felt her just melt in my arms, Her attitude softened immediately and so did mine. That moment was amazing to me. A volatile situation turned warm in a few seconds – just because I chose to hug a child who was at that moment so unhuggable.”
If we look closely and think about what Madisyn wanted by her behaviour I would say that Madisyn wanted connection – her mother’s attention. By her mother giving her a hug, she made sure that the connection that was made between the 2 of them was a positive one.
So when the going gets tough you’re just about to get going into that place that you don’t want to go, look at your child and say “I need a hug!” not “I want a hug.” If they don’t then you can say, “I need a hug. Come and get me when you’re ready.” and walk away. Or you can do what Mary did in the story.
I’ve even tried it with my teens and it works! Let me know what happens when you try it.
PS. Sometimes it feels a little scary – kinda like hugging a wild beast!!!