Tuesday, May 28, 2013

It's Not Personal

We've all been there. Someone passes you their baby or young toddler only to have the child start wailing or pushing you away. Have you ever taken it personally?

We had a second birthday party for the girls this past weekend (birthday is tomorrow-post to come). Jenn and I were persona non grata to them. For the entire party, they happily played and entertained the crowd. They didn't give us the time of day. We didn't even get a family photo!

I didn't take the party shunning personally. I was happy that they were happy and comfortable. But, I am also number 1 in their eyes 98% of the time. They want to be with me when they're hungry or tired or hurt and most times in between. I have been pushed away by them less than five times in the last two years. Being number 1 isn't always sunshine and roses, especially when I see them push someone close to them away. It's hard not to feel a little bit hurt. 

Most people don't take this personally or try hard to remind themselves not to take it personally. The under 2 crowd, especially, is unpredictable. I know that it gets to some people when the girls don't give them any attention, refuse to hug/kiss them or cry when they try to pick them up. I have to remind myself that it isn't personal and that toddlers live in the moment. They don't understand social etiquette yet either (although they've got 'please' down pat!). 

In every baby and toddlers defence, it might not always feel great to be pushed into someone's arms or be told to hug someone they don't know well. I compare young children to dogs quite often. If you're a dog owner, you've probably heard people say, let the dog come to you, don't go to the dog. Same goes for toddlers. Over the last two years, the people who they've taken to quickly have left them alone but come down to their level. They don't force themselves or try too hard. At 16 months old, they met my cousin Ben, from New Zealand, for the very first time. Within five minutes, the girls were sitting in his lap playing with toys and giggling away. Ben did nothing but sit on the floor. 

How do you handle your kids shunning people? Have you ever taken it personally?


  1. This is funny because it made me think of 2 things. One. My kids had favorites and my wife was it. My first born. FIRST. The one I pushed from my womb. The one I breast fed and was with nearly all of the time. wouldn't give me the time of day if Jan was there. I would play...try to get a laugh. She would courtesy smile. Jan would smile at her and she would just giggle and laugh. I wasn't JEALOUS jealous. but I did wonder...WTH man ! The boys came in 2's. one always liked her and one always liked me. it was weird that way. and then they'd switch. it was all kind of unexplained but it worked.

    Now. My mom is super demonstrative. She wants to kiss and hug all over the babies and kids. My kids are more of the...we'll come to you. So I can see her feeling hurt and I can see her almost putting up a wall. loving on my niece because she LOVES to be cuddled. So I guess the jealousy comes from me in that I want people to dote on my kids more and they don't because my kids aren't those super lovey dovey smile at everyone seek attention kind of kids.
    Well...they seek attention but it's never the kind that I want them to be seeking ;-)

    As for how do you handle it. I was told once to never force a child to hug someone....kiss someone. You don't want them to do it out of obligation. You can get children in trouble with abuse that way. Oh....mom always said I have to hug and kiss grandpa goodbye. in the round about way. see what I mean. You want to teach them to do what they feel comfortable with and that's it.
    the end.
    WHEW !

    1. Good reminder - I generally do not force them to hug anyone, but have done it on occasion with the people they are closest with. But still, no one is forcing us to do those things (now) so we shouldn't do that to our kids.

  2. I have had this post open for a while, meaning to comment, but I haven't been able to articulate my response. My child is very slow to warm up to people and it's been tough on family members who want her to immediately respond and play and yes, give them hugs. It's been a slow process of modeling good behavior (playing quietly and on her level while leaving openings for her to join in without forcing it) and finding ways to casually point out that it's NOT personal, i.e. mentioning how she does it with others (especially the opposite side of the family!) and pointing out when it's handled well.

    We also don't force hugs--high fives, blowing kisses, and even waving have worked well as substitutes. Whenever someone demands a hug or kiss my wife or I jumps in, asks if she wants to hug so-and-so and takes the lead in affirming her response, whether positive or negative.

    In terms of wanting the other parents, well, we just remind ourselves that all kids go through phases of preferring one or the other and enjoy whatever downtime we can sneak in while the other parent is in demand.

    Thanks for the post!