She Says… Recurring Themes

Owen is an affectionate kid. A SUPER affectionate kid. As a baby he loved to be held and was happiest smiling right up in someone’s (anyone’s?) face. Now he often asks for hugs and snuggles and loves to bury his face in my neck or hold my hand.

That’s adorable, right? About a year ago I posted about the dark side of being so affectionate. His… drum roll please... PROBLEM with loving his friends too much. Hugging them so much, for instance, that they fall to the ground and someone gets hurt. And that someone was never Owen. To date, it’s the only behavior he’s ever been reprimanded for (aside from the biting incident).

Around that time we talked a lot about gentle hands and so-and-so doesn’t want a hug right now and great hug, buddy, now let go… . It was a fine line because I certainly didn’t want to tell him not to hug his friends, but he did need to learn, uh, boundaries.

History repeats itself, my friends! Over the weekend we got to meet my high school friend’s 10 week old baby, Zoey. They had sent us a beautiful birth announcement with close-up pictures of her hands and feet that Owen had been talking about for weeks. As soon as she walked in the door, Owen wanted to see her hands and feet, and pushed the birth announcement in her face, insisting, “See, Zoey! See! ‘Dose are your feet!”. It was precious. We had a present to give them as well, as Owen thrust it into her hands and wanted her to open it. He adored her and wanted her to sit and play with him immediately.

Then came the hugging. The over-hugging.


Owen’s downfall.


As soon as he got close enough to touch her tiny little feet, Owen wanted to pull her in closer and closer and wouldn’t stop until he was holding her entirely on her own.


Don’t worry, we did a lot of refereeing and tried to remind him that she is just a baby and use gentle hands and don’t squeeze her face so tight.


(Thankfully she is a very sturdy little babe and played baby doll very well!)


Despite the fact that he won’t let go, this picture melts my heart. I think he’s trying to tell me he wants a little baby of his own.

I even got my strength training workout to try my hand at playing referee holding two kids at once. Practice!


The next day we had a playdate with a friend who has a younger brother. Similar to the Zoey loving, Owen would inch closer and closer to him throughout the day and go in for long, drawn-out hugs… to the ground. It’s like he slips into a comatose zone mid-hug wherein he can’t hear us telling him to stop. It’s like he can’t help himself. Slightly hilarious and slightly embarrassing.

We tried offering him a baby doll and letting him know that he could hug it as much as he wanted. And we’ve started counting down and saying things like, “Great hug! We’ll be all done in 3, 2, 1!”. And trying to appeal to his empathetic side with, “I don’t think so-and-so wants a hug right now. Do you want to come give ME a hug?”. None of the tactics are working particularly well, but we’re hoping he’ll hear the message in one way or another.

I can only imagine how he will be when we have a real, live baby brother or sister for him to squeeze all the time! Someday. Hopefully by that point he will have learned to control this irresistible desire to over-hug… but I’m guessing this is going to be a recurring theme for him.


11 responses to “She Says… Recurring Themes

  1. If I could bottle up some of my kid’s “I hate all other children” attitude, you could slip a dose to Owen and fix this whole issue. 🙂

  2. Aww, Owen is just such a sweetie! That picture is precious!
    Also, I love your bracelets. . . I noticed them in another post too. Where did you get them?

  3. My son is a hugger (or smotherer ;))…and a kisser. It can be very awkward, for sure! We try to say “just wave, just say hi”. How do you teach a 2 yr old about personal space?! Our other problem is that he can go from hugging to pushing in the blink of an eye. I totally have to helicopter parent him when he’s in one of those moods. More awkwardness! 🙂 He’s just as affectionate with his lil bro, with a mix of hitting and pushing thrown in. I predict Owen will be equally affectionate with a future sibling!

  4. Minus the hitting and pushing!!!!

  5. Sorry Kate. Last 2 comments were from same person. Have no idea why an old username posted! Now that I blew up your comment section, I think I’ll go back to just stalking! 😉

  6. Sturdy is an absolutely perfect description of Zoey.

  7. Oh my. That’s very cute.

  8. @Kara, Ha. Yeah, send some of that my way.

    @Megan, Thank you! They were a recent find on ( They always have the coolest stuff.

    @Jen, I totally hear you, sister! It IS awkward, and I bet we’ll have lots of helicoptering/refereeing to do once another baby is in the picture. Until then, I’ll just have to warn my friends.

    @Shawn, I can NOT believe she’s only 10 weeks old. Amanda must be feeding her Muscle Milk.

  9. Totes adorbs.

    We had similar issues and based on those I have absolutely no advice for you. Sorry. Miss A remains regularly overly affectionate. When she got to be about Owens age is when she started seeing strangers she liked on sight and just running up to them and tackling them. So, we’d be at the grocery store, say, and she’d see some complete stranger she just liked the look of, I guess, and she race right over to them and run into them at full speed whilst wrapping her arms around their legs and, like as not, burying her face in their crotch (because that’s how tall she was). She did this to a few people her age and smaller, as well. Occasionally knocking down these poor total strangers. Luckily, though, it seems like at about this age she also got more interested in doing this to other adults, so we had few incidents with other kids and adults are a lot more likely to find this behavior amusing, if somewhat surprising. This went on for about half a year. Around age 4 she suddenly (mostly) stopped doing this. I’d like to say it was because our attempts at gently curbing this (in exactly the ways you’re describing you’re doing) worked, but I really don’t think that was it. I think she just … grew out of it.

  10. Oh, actually, on posting that, it suddenly occurred to me that her over-friendliness with strangers winding down did sort of coincide with something else. Right around when she turned 4, she moved into a new room at daycare. This is Jr. K, which is run a lot more like a class and has a teacher who is a lot more like a teacher than her previous rooms. The new teacher told me about an incident where Miss A was trying to kiss her on the lips and she had to explain that “we don’t kiss friends or teachers on the lips” and Miss A argued with her that she kissed her mommies and daddy and sister on the lips and the teacher explained that was fine, but we don’t do it for friends or other adults and went into germs and such a bit. I wonder if this sudden understanding of a distinction between family and other people had something to do with the over-hugging stopping. I’m pretty sure up until then Miss A saw “school” as basically just part of her life, like home and everything else.

  11. @Iphy, I love hearing stories about A. She and Owen have had many similar stages. I also appreciate thinking of it that he really loves everyone as an extension of family… that is really quite sweet.

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