I have been searching for a good article on why “hugging it out during tantrums” works but couldn’t find anything better than this story. I myself started hugging my 3 y/o during tantrums about a year ago (provided she let me), and I have noticed a huge difference in the amount of time it took to help her calm down. It also helped me feel good about myself when instead of screaming or getting mad at her, I just hugged her. It made me feel good showing her how much I loved her even when others thought she didn’t deserve it at that very moment. One year later now, she comes to me randomly asking for hugs, or offers hugs when mommy is feeling “grumpy”, and I can not even remember when she had a huge tantrum last time, not bragging here but being honest. Would I go back to my old ways of getting angry at her behavior? NEVER! Hugging definitely beats any violent response to almost any kid-related tough moment.
Here is a bit of wisdom I managed to find that doesn’t only apply to kids with special needs but to every child, in Hugs Are a Parent’s Secret Weapon:
“Hugs are a great way to show love and affection for your child. But when your little one is acting jumpy, emotional, or out of control, they can do much more than that. A good hard hug, with lots of squeezing to the trunk and shoulders, can provide some powerful sensory input to a disorganized child and help restore feelings of calm and control. This may be particularly effective if your child has sensory integration problems around the proprioceptive sense, or sense of body position. A hard hug gives good input to the joints, and may make your child feel more grounded and less antsy. But most children will benefit from a good squeeze when they’re feeling out of sorts. If your child doesn’t like to be hugged, see if he or she will tolerate a hug from behind — sometimes not having their faces buried will relieve any sense of hug-panic. If even that is too intense, try a game like making your child into a burrito to administer that calming deep pressure. Maybe the best thing about this secret weapon is that all this hugging and squeezing makes you feel calmer and more in control, too.”