There is no passive-aggressive, conditional, manipulative nonsense behind my statement. I mean what I say. She doesn’t have to hug or kiss anyone just because I say so, not even me. I will not override my own child’s currently strong instincts to back off from touching someone who she chooses not to touch.

Katia Hetter, on how she gives her 4 year old daughter the choice between hugging/kissing people, or not. She emphasizes the need for a child to be respectful but also for parents and others to be respectful of the child’s personal comfort zone and instinct.

Although I think the article goes a little far with the implications of allowing a child to choose their own polite greeting, I respect its perspective and agree very much that it should never be seen as disrespectful if a child – or anyone, really – is not physically affectionate; people should not feel hurt or offended if other respectful measures are there. Further, I respect the view asserted here that conforming to convention just to please someone shouldn’t be taught; kids will learn on their own through observation and practice, and can then make their own decisions on how they’d like to conduct themselves.

Of course, it’s not that simple – certain things are a parent’s job to teach and discipline can be taught if not self-imposed – but social conventions learned by instinct and trial and error rather than instruction are much more openly embraced (so to speak).

(But, what do I know! This isn’t a parenting blog!)

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