Anon Should Hugs be Expected?

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Feb 16, 2022
750
My daughter doesn't like people close to her when she is frustrated. This has been her personalisty her whole life! When she was a toddler and would fall or hurt herself while we were out in public she didn't want me, her mother, to pick her up and coddle her, she wanted to be left alone. I got plenty of looks from strangers as my child cried and I gave her some space.

Recently we ran into a bit of an issue at the gym because her coach really encourages hugging between the teammates. After my daughter was frustrated with struggling on a skill and was talked to by her coach the coach sent an older teammate over to check on her. The teammate asked if my daughter wanted a hug and my daughter said no. The coach talked to me about this later and I told him that our families rule is that a child NEVER has to hug someone if they do not want to.

I'm just wondering how common this is in this sport? Should a frustrated child hug a teammate even if they don't want to at the moment? Is it ok to give a frustrated child some space to work out their emotions before expecting a hug?
 

Coach Kate

Coach
Fan
Oct 13, 2021
238
31
Honestly, that just sounds kind of weird to me. After a long time of actively discouraging the kids from touching each other, we really don't see much at all. If they want to, of course they do, but as coaches we don't say anything one way or another. We might do a big group huddle before a meet, but that's really it. Sometimes we will have the kids check in with each other, but they usually ask for advice or share an example of when they were frustrated and how they got over it, definitely verbal. Even with my preschool classes, I ask if they want a fist bump, a high five, or just a wave. If a kid asks for a hug, I give one, but I don't do anything that makes them feel like they have to have any physical touch.
 
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gym_dad32608

Proud Parent
Aug 7, 2018
404
54
I think as a general rule, hugs are to be expected among teammates. But if its communicated clearly that hugs are a no-no then I would expect teammates and coaches to respect that. It's not totally unheard of that some girls just want their space when working through a struggle in competition or practice, but girls by default are going to want to hug to show support and help for their teammate.
 
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Feb 16, 2022
750
I have no idea how common hugging is in the sport compared with other places, but girls in general do tend to be huggy. Your other questions- of course there should not be unwanted touching ever, and if I understand correctly, in this case the teammate asked your daughter if she wanted a hug rather than forcing one on her and your daughter said no- so that was good communication and seems appropriate? Of course she can refuse unwanted hugs. What was the coach's response to you?

Leaving another person alone to cry or get over something is something lots of people struggle with, I have found. - I have been an easy crier almost my entire life and know this make people very uncomfortable. While I am a big hugger, I have always preferred time to myself to pull myself together when I am upset or frustrated, because people crowding in and making sympathetic noises only made me intensely embarrassed and it was harder to calm down. It took years for me to figure out that I needed to put the other people at ease so I could get my privacy. I learned to be direct and polite, say "Thank you, I am really ok but need a few minutes alone" or something along those lines.
 
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Feb 16, 2022
750
I agree that hugs and other forms of comfort should always be voluntary with no expectations to accept or offer. When mine were younger, we never required they provide hugs to anyone, including their relatives.

My dd was similar to this when she was younger and frustrated. I had to have a meeting with the coaches at one point because they were inadvertently making the situation worse when they tried to "help" her through a frustrating situation by giving hugs and verbally comforting her when really all she needed/wanted was a few minutes to herself. They did not like this because they felt she needed to learn to get past it and accept team support and we were working on this gradually - but in the moment, I felt they should approach the situation in a way that would help "bring her back" to a good place quickly. We eventually compromised where the coaches would approach and dd would let them know if she wanted interaction to needed alone time. As she got older, she did learn to accept support during these times and became a big supporter of her fellow teammates as well.
 
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Feb 16, 2022
750
I have no idea how common hugging is in the sport compared with other places, but girls in general do tend to be huggy. Your other questions- of course there should not be unwanted touching ever, and if I understand correctly, in this case the teammate asked your daughter if she wanted a hug rather than forcing one on her and your daughter said no- so that was good communication and seems appropriate? Of course she can refuse unwanted hugs. What was the coach's response to you?

Leaving another person alone to cry or get over something is something lots of people struggle with, I have found. - I have been an easy crier almost my entire life and know this make people very uncomfortable. While I am a big hugger, I have always preferred time to myself to pull myself together when I am upset or frustrated, because people crowding in and making sympathetic noises only made me intensely embarrassed and it was harder to calm down. It took years for me to figure out that I needed to put the other people at ease so I could get my privacy. I learned to be direct and polite, say "Thank you, I am really ok but need a few minutes alone" or something along those lines.
The coaches response was what concerned me. He was upset that my daughter refused a hug.
 
Feb 16, 2022
750
I guess in that situation I would ask the coach why he was upset that your daughter refused a hug. I have no idea why that would upset someone, unless it has to do with how the hug was refused. Some people are just not huggers, coach should be able to understand and respect this, especially if it is explained to him.
 
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Feb 16, 2022
750
I hate being hugged and it was excruciating for me to grow up in a culture where I was expected to hug everyone.
It is not okay for the coach to get upset over someone enforcing their hugging boundary.
 
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Jenny

Coach
Proud Parent
Sep 17, 2012
3,441
I agree with the poster who said if your dd doesn't like being hugged then it won't make her feel better.
Is there an alternative that she could offer instead. To recognise that people are trying to make her feel better and to allow them to do that. Like maybe a hi 5 or a fist bump.
The coach is wrong to be upset about this. It's not his call.
 

rlm's mom

Proud Parent
Aug 21, 2021
310
40
Your DD should initiate fist bumps or claps instead. Those are the norm in our gym. Also, if the coach is insisting on it, that is a red light.
 
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WV Gym Mom

Proud Parent
Mar 7, 2022
71
49
Some kids are just huggers...and some are 100% not. My 9ytr old daughter is NOT a hugger. She doesn't even like hugs from me. Her teammates and coaches know this, and respect her boundaries. She also doesn't like high fives or even a pat on the shoulder. And she knows she has the right to tell anyone not to touch her.
It seems odd that the coach "encourages hugging among the team". That's just...odd.