Focus at Four: Girl Scouts warns against forcing your child to hug at the holidays

Sometimes a hug is just a hug, but sometimes a hug plants the seed in a young girl's mind that she doesn't get to make her own choices about her own body.

That's the message from the Girl Scouts of America in an article posted to their website titled "Reminder: She Doesn’t Owe Anyone a Hug. Not Even at the Holidays."

"If your child wants to give her aunt a hug, then great," said Dominique Graves, the community troop program specialist for the Girl Scouts of Central Texas. "But if she's signaling that she's uncomfortable with that, you can help encourage her to make her own decisions about how she shows affection. It could be a high-five, or even a side-hug. Whatever she's more comfortable with."

Graves says it's a slippery slope to suggest that your child "owes" physical affection to anyone, for any reason.

"Just like how a grown woman doesn't owe a date a goodnight kiss," said Graves.

Since its posting this week, the article and its message have received pushback from families who say it's not a big deal to encourage your child to hug her relatives. Graves says, she's not surprised that the idea has been a conversation-starter.

"Anytime there's a change in the way we're thinking or what's happening in society, it can be uncomfortable," said Graves. "But this doesn't give your child agency to be rude or impolite, just to have control over her own decisions about physical contact."

For more from Graves, see the video player above. For the original article from the Girl Scouts of America, see the Related Links.