To Hug or Not To Hug…. That is the Question!

Okay, so the purpose of this post is summed up in the title.  While it might sound like a joke, in all seriousness, I open this up for a debate.  Do you give hugs at school?  If not, why not?

By nature, I am a hugger.  I believe that hugging is so important for our little kiddo's at school.  I believe that you are never to old for a hug.  I believe that by giving hugs you are giving the student a sense of security.  A hug can help make a child feel safe at school.
The most important thing for me, as a teacher, is to make sure my students feel safe at school.  I want them to want to come to school.  I want my students to get the most out of their day, and with time, to become independent citizens.  For my students, they range cognitively from 6 months to 8 years old.  I don't know about you, but most 6 month year olds I know sure do get a lot of hugs.  I argue all the time with colleagues that just because my students are in 10 and 11 year old bodies does not mean that we can expect 10 and 11 year old behaviors from them.  To some, hugging a 6th grade boy is inappropriate at school.  I think that it depends on the child and the situation.  If it makes them happy and feel safe, if it is going to help them regulate their behaviors, if it will help them better access the curriculum then by all means, I'm going to give my students a hug.
 


Do you hug at school?  Is it allowed?  Is it frowned upon?






6 comments

  1. I hug my students only if they request it.

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  2. I have always said that the day I'm told I can longer hug my kiddos, is the day I walk out the door and stop teaching.

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  3. I had this discussion with co workers today! One of my non verbal kiddies that is probably in the 12 month mebtal range dat on my lap wanting a hug. Know what? She got it! Her goal right now is to feel safe and secure at School and I think hugs do that!

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  4. I have always done either middle or high school. I don't hug in either setting. Middle and high school is when students go through puberty.Their bodies go through the exact same changes as other students and they no longer look like little kids. My students are similar to yours with their cognitive functioning. According to ARC about 70 percent of students with cognitive disabilities are sexually assaulted.Because of our students cognitive disability they are not able to determine whether someone is trying to be friendly or to take advantage.I teach my students very explicit boundaries and who can touch them and how one of those boundaries is that we do not hug in middle school or high school. Hugging is reserved for family and very close friends . This is explicitly taught through the Circles program. It seems harsh but it is my role to try to keep my students as safe as possible not just at school but when they leave school.I wouldn't want anyone to interpret their hugging them to be anything other than a simple hug and so it's just better in my opinion to teach no hugging when they get to secondary school. It takes a long time to undo the hugging they have learned in elementary, but it is disconcerting for other people when our fully grown and mature looking students go up to people they don't know and hug them. Anyway, that is my two cents.

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  5. I am all for hugs. However, I just got a new student about a month ago and he hugs very inappropriately. He grabs places he should not grab. He also only wants to hug when he has done something wrong. We are trying to reinforce and give attention and praise for his positive behaviors and ignore the bad. It's been tough since we hug our other kiddos and would love to be able to hug him in an appropriate way.

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  6. I teach high school students who are . As our students grow, it is important for them to learn boundaries, how to touch others and how to let others touch you. There is little more awkward than a 16 year old boy (even one who functions at a 12 month old level) sitting on a strangers lap and wanting a hug. To an extent, these students are going to have to function in society as adults, and interact with people who will not understand their disabilities. My students hug each other (appropriately), and we practice side hugs. They can ask for a hug, and we will hug them. We talk about saving hugs for bigger occasions- something great happens, something upsetting happens, and that family and close friends are the types of people that we can hug anytime. We use the Circles program to teach this. Full body hugs can become inappropriate as teenagers and adults, because some use hugs as a way to feel sexual pleasure (not necessarily knowingly, but still inappropriate). I think touch is incredibly important for our students and we're constantly giving high-fives, knuckle bumps, patting our students on the back, and other types of touch. Just a perspective from someone who has the older ones!

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