Toddlers are a funny lot. It’s rather amazing how early on in a person’s life their personalities begin to show up in the behaviour. Shy, introverted, outgoing… it’s not too early to see what kind of adult they might become. In my son’s case, one of his very obvious personality traits is his extremely sociable nature.
At just 21 months, he is Mr. Outgoing. He loves other children, likes to play with just about anyone and is not shy to be affectionate with other kids. These are all things I love about him. His outgoing and independent nature made his integration into daycare two months ago an absolute breeze.
There’s one small problem, though. Sometimes I think my son will become one of those people that hang out in public places giving away free hugs. While I mostly find this to be adorable, sometimes his peers in his daycare class are not so keen on his hugs. At least not in the early days just two short months ago. You see, one thing my kid also has on others his age is a definite size advantage. He’s a big boy for his age and pretty strong too. So when the other kids would see him coming, arms outstretched, they would just shriek and start crying as he would tackle them to the ground and plant big wet kisses on them.
How do you explain to an 18 month old child who barely speaks that your kid just wants to hug them? It probably doesn’t seem that way when a gentle giant comes along and starts crushing you and slobbering on you. Are you supposed to discipline your child for trying to be nice? All I could say was “Sweetie, not too rough, gentle, gentle, GENTLE!!!!! Oooooh, sorry buddy, he didn’t mean to hurt you!” as the kid would fall to the floor. That was usually my cue to hightail it out of the daycare and off to work.
The good news is that my little man quickly learned (after a few nasty bites in retaliation from his victims) to stop hugging people smaller than him and found a new group of friends on the daycare playground. At 4 years old, the older kids are more willing to oblige in hugs and seem to even enjoy hugging him. It’s pretty cute seeing them greet him in the morning with a big hug. That doesn’t mean he doesn’t occasionally (and affectionately) take down one of his own classmates, but now they usually freak out a little less than they used to.
What can I say? He’s a serial hugger….