You have noticed that your toddler used to enjoy cuddling up to you and giving and receiving hugs and kisses. But lately, he/she is not so interested in showing affection. Although this may cause you to wonder that something drastic has changed with him/her, it is a very common practice. Here are some reasons why your toddler may not want to cozy up to you like they used to.
One reason a young child may not want to accept your hugs and kisses is his/her way of showing personal control. Part of the aging process of your toddler is the assertion of their bodies. While they do not dislike your parental affection, resisting your physical love is their way of showing they have control.
Both girls and boys can resist attention, but boys most likely resist mom’s kisses as a way of dealing with their attraction to her. Toddlers go through a unique stage in development where they are learning about their independence. As a result, they assert themselves more often. As a parent, you want to show your child love and affection, which is fine.
But your toddler may have different ideas. Something else to keep in mind is that a very active toddler simply wants to wiggle away so that they can play. All of this behavior is completely normal.
While your previous forms of affection were perfectly fine in the past, now your toddler wants nothing to do with it. A more sensitive child may not be so happy with the elongated hugs you usually give. The boy tends to resist a kiss from mommy because it is simply too intimate for him.
Both girls and boys will start to resist longer forms of affection, such as kissing or embracing, because of their sensitivity to it. Not wanting to be cuddly could simply be a quirk that your child has. Active and highly alert children will shun affection more than others.
However, something to keep in mind is that if this activity persists, there may be other underlying issues that you may want to contact a pediatrician about. If your child seems physically and emotionally distant, it’s a sign that something is out of the ordinary, and it would be best to contact a doctor about it immediately.
What can I do about it?
There are several methods you can try to help with your situation of your child resisting affection.
Touch and Timing
Simply hugging and kissing your toddler at the right time can be effective. When your child is playing or keeping busy in some way, they will more than likely reject your hugs and kisses. However, when he/she is getting ready for bedtime and about to go asleep, they may greatly relish your physical touch. Also, when he/she is feeling more anxious or tired and ready for a nap is a good time when they will be more accepting of your touch.
The way that you touch is also important. Choosing the right form of physical affection for your child will help understand their development. A quick squeeze, or maybe just embracing their shoulders or stroking their head or cheek, maybe just what they need. Some toddlers enjoy tickling or wrestling. As you try out these different methods, you will soon realize what type of affection is best and will be most easily received by them.
Agree with their freedom
Asserting their independence and freedom is normal behavior for a growing toddler. Your child is in the development stages, where they are beginning to understand what they can and cannot get away with. Around the age of 2, toddlers enjoy the word no, and they will begin to use the word more often than before.
Also, they are showing that they have control over their bodies. If you want to hug your toddler and they believe it is time to get away (either because they want to play or for another reason), it is wise to let them go. If you give them their space and freedom now, they will be more likely to accept hugs more openly and freely later on.
Agreeing with your child’s independence can be quite effective in learning their levels of sensitivity and openness to your affection. The previous mention of hugging at the proper time goes along with this idea.
Do not scold too much.
A common practice of a parent or caregiver at first would be to scold the child for not accepting your affection. For example, if you embrace your child and they respond by squirming away, you may feel led to ask them, ‘Don’t you love me?’ This is a normal reaction but should be avoided.
This may cause your child to feel bad about his/her emotions that they can’t control. This goes along with the idea of allowing freedom. At first, it may feel uncomfortable to witness your child pushing away from you, but keep in mind it’s a perfectly normal way for them to display their independence.
Do not completely give up on showing your toddler affection. Also, do not force it. If you force affection too much, your child may begin to believe that it is alright for all adults to demand physical attention. Your child still loves you! He/she just has their way of showing it at this stage. Understanding your own child’s unique patterns and quirks will allow you to show them affection in the best way possible, and they will love you for that.
While it is always possible to help your child along in their understanding of affection, it is also possible there may be something wrong. If your child is very standoffish, and this continues constantly, there may be an issue with your toddler’s sensory processing.
Autism is also a possibility.
However, this is in more rare cases. Observing other families’ children is good with helping to identify if something may be wrong with your own. Following these simple tips, they will help you greatly in responding properly to your child’s lack of enthusiasm for your hugs and kisses.