Don’t Shrug the Hug!
I am a long time, hardy and over-zealous hugger. I enthusiastically embrace anyone who is in need of a hug. Friends and family are clearly at the top of my list, but I’ve been known to hug a stranger or two if I felt they needed the support. But never have I been sent to the naughty corner. And never, to my knowledge, has someone I’ve hugged ended up in the emergency room of the local hospital.
There has been a lot of controversy this week over a WA primary school child who was punished for hugging another in the playground. The Year 6 child received a lunchtime detention. The school stood behind its belief that over-zealous hugging can lead to injuries. I say that not hugging can. Injuries of the greatest emotional proportions can occur if you are in a hug free zone.
Hugging is one of life’s greatest freebies. In one swoop of the arms, the ‘hugee’ can be made to feel supported, warm, appreciated and loved. The ‘hugger’ also is flooded with feelings of warmth and joy. The fact that hugs can mean so many things at so many different times is their endearing quality.
Consider these possible school ground scenarios between children... A child falls over in the playground; a hug of care is given. A child learns their parents are divorcing; their friend gives a hug of support. The class is thrilled that they’ve won an award; friends hug and jump in delight. Each of us as parents would be proud to see our children exhibit such positive emotions as care, empathy and delight. Is this not something that we should be applauding rather than abhorring?
By not only telling children not to hug, but making it a punishable offence, we are creating a generation of children who will be unable to freely express their positive emotions for fear of reprisal. The message it sends twists the innocence of our kids and makes them uncomfortable to do what is endearing and natural.
This is just another ridiculous case of people protecting themselves in an ever increasing litigious society. Are schools so seriously worried about being sued that children have to be restrained from showing each other basic care, enthusiasm and affection?
More than often our children mirror our behaviour. So let’s lead by example. Try and give a hug a day. Give your child as many as you can and let them know hugging is good, hugging is healthy and that hugging is essential to feel loved. Why not raise the stakes? Next time you see your child’s teacher, give them a hug. That’d shake things up a bit in that school in WA...