A touch too much
"I love you, you love me
We are one big family
A big fat hug and a kiss from me to you
This shows how you love me too."
Sounds familiar? Think about it. Wouldn't you like your special someone to hug you everyday, for the rest of your life, and tell you how much he/she loves you? You would. Your three-year-old daughter and four-and-a-half year old son obviously think differently.
"They don't like baby talk these days," observes actress Shweta Kawatra. "When you see such adorable chubby cheeks on kids, you want to hug them. But the tykes simply shrug you off. They feel awkward. They want to be treated as ‘kidults'."
"I feel a certain degree of physical contact through hugs and kisses is important. It conveys a sense of warmth and closeness in the relationship you share with your child," says mother-of-two and enterpreneur Ritu Sharma.
"And that is a vital link in the fast paced lives we lead these days." As a parent you must build a healthy bond peppered with goodnight kisses and bear hugs as a sign of approval. A frequent handshake for sonny will do nicely.
Sometimes, these gestures go unrequited. Especially when your princess pulls away from your arms or your son beats a hasty retreat out of your embrace.
"The problem arises when parents take to mollycoddling, especially in front of others. The child then begins to feel acutely self-conscious and tends to cringe. Even peer presence is enough to trigger feelings of embarrassment," explains child specialist Dr Anu radha Vakeil.
"As parents, you must strike a balance between giving the little one her space without crushing her. Sometimes, the moment when you feel that your child needs your physical comfort might not be the moment when the child himself actually wants it. Learn to judge slowly," she says.
It's a primary need. To love and to be loved in return. Your tyke knows that you love her, and so does she, but you wish to reaffirm it time and again. It hurts when your efforts are deflected. But you need to be understanding.
At times, when hurt, your child wants to cry alone for a bit before you envelop her. Never give up. If your kid resents bear hugs in public, respect his/her feelings.
Children of the present generation are much more mature. Even so, don't give up totally on the hugs.
"I can't describe the feeling. When I was helping my child onto the school bus, she turned around and gave me a quick sunshine hug and mouthed, I love you. It made my heart melt," says Ritika Sahni, a lawyer.
"I get to spend very little time with her due to work pressure. But I need to respect her space too, when she just wants to be by herself. I do, but then I also continue with the good morning kiss ritual. Maybe that's what works for us."
Many a time, kids ask for closeness. Like when they wake up from a nap and make a beeline for you. Or simply to communicate with you how special you are to them - just an expression of their myriad moods.
Certain studies reveal that warmth in the parent-child relationship is related to positive growth in children. Higher self-esteem, better parent-child communication, fewer behavioral problems, and steady academic performance are linked to the affection display between parents and children.
The golden rule is to follow your instinct. Remember, each child is different. Tune in to yours and discover your sync.