Whether it’s the first day of school, the first time with a new babysitter or just another day at daycare, kids can experience just as much separation anxiety from as adults. But one mom found a way to help calm her son’s anxiety, and it’s a brilliant trick that all parents can start using immediately.
Louise Mallett came up with the idea of a “hug button” that both she and her son Max could wear. The “button” was simply a little heart she drew on his hand and, whenever he pushed it, it meant he was sending hugs to his mom. And whenever she pushed hers, she was sending a big, warm hug back to him.
She posted about the idea on Facebook, explaining how it worked to keep her son happier at school.
“I drew a heart on both our hands and gave him a spare one on his arm in case the one on his hand wore off,” she wrote. “[W]e ‘charged’ them by holding hands on the way to school and when I picked him up I said, ‘did you get my hugs’ and he happily said ‘yep!’ He also said ‘I pressed it for a long time mummy but I didn’t cry.'”
The mom first posted about the idea to Facebook back in 2017, but it’s remained popular among parents online.
“Wow nearly a year on and this is still getting so much love,” Mallett recently posted as an update. “I’m currently trying to find a publisher as I have turned this into a rhyming story for children to understand the concept of the hug button. I hope to one day be able to let you know where you can purchase the book from for your little ones.”
Can you imagine a “hug button” book? How cute!
Anxiety In Children
According to psychologist Tamar Chansky, Ph.D., a child experiencing anxiety, especially at the beginning of something new, is completely normal.
“It’s normal for children to have fears that come and go throughout their life,” Chansky told Aetna. “Typically what happens is a child encounters a new situation and they need some time to learn about it, to work with it and get used to it.”
But parents don’t always know how to handle this anxiety when it arises. According to Deborah Gilboa, MD, a pediatrician and child development expert, developing a “coping strategy” is the best move for parents.
“Whatever struggles our kids face, we want them to develop positive coping strategies,” Gilboa told Aetna. “Naming the problem makes that easier.”
Testing The ‘Hug Button’
The editor of parenting blog The Motherload, Alison McGarragh-Murphy, told the Huffington Post UK: “[O]ur members have been talking about the struggles of their children who are finding it difficult to settle in as they start school for the very first time. So when Louise Mallett posted the gorgeous photo of her and Max’s hug buttons we absolutely loved her idea — as did our members. Lots of mums in our lovely supportive community tried hug buttons too, and found that they also helped their child cope better with going to school for the first time.”
It’s no wonder this hug button has been such a hit among parents. It helps children identify what’s making them sad, reminds them they’re not alone and serves as a constant reminder that they can send hugs to their loved ones at home whenever they want!
And really, we could all use that reminder from time to time, couldn’t we? What a sweet idea!