He is two and playmate is the same age. They play well together but the playmate rebuffs hugs- how do you handle that?

  • You have tagged about 1-3 years, it might help to narrow the age of the two boys in the body of the question. Also the other boy's parents' reactions.
    – user26011
    Aug 19, 2017 at 15:05
  • Both 2 years old. Aug 20, 2017 at 0:27

2 Answers 2


I love that you asked this because I had the same issue with my one son and a child he played with nearly daily of the same age. I just kept interceding. You have to. Even though they are small and likely mean no harm, it's not totally all innocent. This is not terribly different than toy snatching or other behaviors you want to put an end to. It is unwanted, non-consensual contact.

I would (over & over & over) go to him, remove him from the other child and say "Hugs are only nice when we want them". This has to be paired with you never making him hug anyone if he prefers not to, not even grandma when she is leaving. In order to teach a child that all touch is consensual based only, you must also allow them freedom to say no to touching & hugging too.

Also as an aside, watch when he does this. As I watched closely, I noticed my son may have been doing it to be a stinker. The more the other child wanted him to stop, the more devoted he was to trying. Any behavior out of the other boy he didn't like, such as a toy snatch or a hit, would then elicit a hug reaction. I think he genuinely was a hugger overall and did like hugs. I also think he caught on it irritated some kids and used it that way too though.

And if you are diligent & keep telling him how he needs permission to give a hug and when someone says "no" you have to stop, he will stop. It takes a little time, like all unwanted behaviors, but it did stop. And when you are interceding & reminding & telling and it feels like they will never "get it", trust yourself to know they will. You don't teach ABC's in a few lessons, it takes doing it over & over & over. It is the same with children learning proper ways to interact with other kids. Repetition might be irritating and tiresome, but it's not pointless, you will get there.

  • You have to... It is unwanted, non-consensual contact. — Oh, pleeease... that's helicopter parenting! They're two!! 😃 Dec 31, 2018 at 2:13

Do nothing. Pick your battles and tackle the actually important issues: behaviours that truly pose a danger to others or himself. Teaching a toddler to be prim and proper is beyond Victorian!

  • And what do you do when the other child has had enough unwanted touching that he beats the living daylights out of the hugger? You can't teach personal boundaries one way only.
    – pojo-guy
    Jan 3, 2019 at 2:21
  • 1
    You take this wonderful opportunity to teach your child to defend herself, @pojo-guy. And the first lesson is being careful getting too close to other people and putting oneself in danger. The 2nd is identifying danger when it emerges even when it's not her doing, and escaping quickly. The 3rd, of course, is confronting an aggressor. Jan 3, 2019 at 8:45
  • So you're saying it's okay for the hugger to get beat up a bit for violating personal boundaries. I can agree to an extent. When, after repeatedly bring asked to stop, my adult daughter insisted on tickling her 6 year old brother, and he kicked her in the face, I told her it was her own fault. But these are 2 year olds.
    – pojo-guy
    Jan 3, 2019 at 10:55
  • Well, you can tell him the other kid may respond with aggression, and if he does, you can say: "See? I told you so." Lesson learned 😀 Jan 3, 2019 at 22:39
  • Yup. Just wanted to be clear. From the limited space and comment wording, it was possible that you meant the opposite.
    – pojo-guy
    Jan 3, 2019 at 22:49

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