How close is too close? A middle school in Portland, Oregon shocked the nation when the principal banned “hugging!” USA Today highlighted the ban on hugs and stated that there is a national trend in setting restrictions on disorderly and troublesome conduct in public schools. So, the question still remains, “how close is too close?” Teens love to “hug!” However, this simple expression of friendship has caused some students to feel uncomfortable, while other students feel that it is no big deal. In order to understand the “hugging” controversy, one must understand the various types of hugs.
Types of Hugs
- Basic Friend Hug: Quick, both arms, no body touching.
- The Bear Hug: Full arms, body to body.
- Bear Claw: Boy hugs girl but noticeably sticks his elbows out, for fear of getting too close too fast.
- The High Five/Fist Bump Hug: Usually two males who start with a fist bump or high five and then end with a quick hug.
- The Triple Hug: Three people at once.
- The Hug From Behind: This is self explanatory ☺
- The Shake and Lean: This one involves a handshake and then an arm wrap.
More Hugs Teen writers at Radical Parenting also include the following:
-The Nuzzle: This starts with a hug and then just … never ends. Usually arms remain draped and the shorter person’s head leans on the other hugger’s shoulder.
- The Teepee: This is usually when two awkward people do not want to touch bodies so they lean over and hug with their arms, but stick their butts out, so it looks more like a teepee than a wall.
- The Fumble: This happens when you have two huggers with really big backpacks on. They could be going in for a bear hug or a BF Hug and then the backpacks make arm placement difficult, resulting in a mangle of limbs … or a fumble.
- The Obligatory Hug: You can spot these a mile away and they can be combined with the Teepee. This is when the two huggers want their faces as far away from each other as possible and you see heads turned as far away to the side and back as possible.
- The Sider: This can happen in awkward situations or if the huggers are holding food or books. It is the side-arm hug, where the sides of the bodies meet and only one arm is used.
5 Parent Tips: What should parents teach their teens about hugging, touching and relationships?
*Understand the difference between sexual touch and non-sexual touch?
*Teach your teens about personal space.
*Speak up if they feel uncomfortable.
Public display of affection among teens has emerged in to a touchy subject for many parents and school authorities because it highlights the issue of personal boundaries. The controversy appears from two very distinct sides where one believes that is it important for kids to develop a healthy form of affection to establish trust with others. On the other hand, some feel that children are not mentally prepared to handle overly friendly or affectionate behavior that may ultimately lead to inappropriate sexual misconduct.
It is important to education your teens and allow them the freedom to develop a healthy sense of affection while understanding the importance of boundaries. By teaching teens the significance of space, boundaries and relationships, they will develop a healthy understanding of affection that may be carried into their future.
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AUTHOR: Jada Jackson, MS, LMHC – Communicator, Coach & Licensed Mental Health Counselor working with couples, teens, young adults and women empowerment issues in Orlando and East Orlando Florida! Jada Jackson can be reached at (407) 248-0030.