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Why Teens Love to Hug It Out

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Hugging is the new hello!

two teens hugging

Vanessa Van Petten: Recently, Sarah Kershaw wrote an article called "For Teenagers, Hello Means 'How About a Hug?'" about how different types of teen hugs signify what type of relationship the huggers have. Kershaw covered a few that I wish to break down a bit further:

- 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: Duh.
- The Shake and Lean: This one involves a handshake and then an arm wrap (see the Sider, below).

My teen writers at Radical Parenting would also like to add:

- 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.

I recently wrote an article called Touching Teens: Hugs, Hand Holding and Non-Sexual Cuddling, which speaks to the hugging trend's larger implications.

I think it is important especially for parents to think about, and then bring up with their touching teens, how the lack of physical boundaries affects friendships. Recently, a Connecticut School banned physical contact for this exact hugging phenomenon. Yet, I wonder if we ban it, won't teens just want it more?

Part of me loves the idea that friends can be so loving towards one another, and another part of me wonders where to draw the line. Is spooning in homeroom appropriate? I think that every age group and every child is different. I recommend some talking points for parents in my article.

Is your kid a hugger?

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5 comments so far | Post a comment now
Алексей June 1, 2009, 7:46 PM

Очень содержательный сайт! Большое спасибо за работу.

Emily June 1, 2009, 9:58 PM

I’m currently attending high school, and last November my friends and I had a “National” Hug Day. All day, we went around hugging each other, seeing how many hugs that we could get. You never notice how much you need this type of physical contact from people besides family members, until you’re actually hugging them.
I know that depending on how close you are with certain friends, and how you normally act around that friend, changes how you hug them.

RachelAZ June 2, 2009, 1:47 AM

Hugging is hugging. Let’s not overanalyze things. Seriously, banning all physical contact at a school is so ridiculous! Our world is turning into a bunch of PRUDES!!!!!!!!!

Raphael July 2, 2009, 7:53 AM

Writing from Germany here, not the U.S. of A. Seriously - banning physical contact in school? How f***** up is that country you live in?! Hugging is just that. It’s HUGGING. It’s innocent, and when it’s not that’s also not the end of the world. If you have a problem with people hugging, then I suggest a good, healthy session at your favorite psychotherapist.

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