The Aggressive Hugger

March 16, 2020, Jessica Frederick

I have a daughter who I have termed “the aggressive hugger.”  She is big for her age. She has been in the 99+ percentage in weight and height her entire life.  I go with her to this class where she gets to play with other 2-year-olds and I get to visit with other mom’s going through the same battles as I am going through.  Temper tantrums, lack of sleep, cooking, cleaning, temper tantrums, big emotions, temper tantrums.

A lot of the time, I debate going to the class.  Not because I do not love the class, the parents, the activities, the time with my daughter.  I debate about going because I do not know how my daughter is going to respond each time.  She has bit, pinched, hugged, kissed, climbed into the sensory bin, painted on other kid’s art, eaten play dough, and had many temper tantrums all in one class setting.  I am naturally introverted and to have people look at me is just too overwhelming.

We have been in the class now for a year and a half.  I have become close to two families from the class.  They understand my struggles.  They are so supportive and helpful.  They are the reason I continue to go.  When my daughter is hugging so much that she tackles another child they help intervene.  They help other parents understand that my daughter is not being “mean” or “purposely hurting” their children, she is just a two-year-old that “loves aggressively.”

At one point, I really thought about quitting the class.  She was pinching and parents were not associating with me at all.  I felt so alone.  I felt like a bad parent.  I felt like it was a waste of my time to go to this class and come out crying every single time.  I called one of my friends in the class and said I do not think I am going to go to class anymore.  It is just too hard.  All she said was, “What about your daughter?”

It hit me. What am I teaching my daughter when I leave?  What am I showing her?  To give up.  When things get hard to stop trying.  It would have been easier for me to quit going.  However, it would have only been easier in the short hand.  I am ALWAYS going to run into parents that do not agree with my parenting style.  They are not always going to agree with how my daughter “loves aggressively.”  How is my daughter going to learn to hug gently if she does not get taught how to hug?  How is she going to learn to stand up for herself if I cannot stand up for her now?

Parenting is not easy but it is easier when you have other people helping you.  I love that I get to show my daughter what healthy friendships look like.  Though parenting is tough, it is better with support, and I have to learn how to do it.  I cannot step aside each time something gets hard.  I have to push through.  Surround yourself with people you trust and feel safe around.  I could not do it alone.