How Old is Too Old to Cuddle your Kids? Here’s the Verdict


Many internet scrollers are well aware of Reddit’s AITA. This is a section of Reddit where people ask if they are the asshole. They share their side of the story and allow others to decide if they are in the wrong or if the other person is in the wrong. It’s terribly addictive and entertaining and easy to be swallowed into the AITA vortex with very little chance to return.

So today’s dilemma comes from AITA where a Reddit user is questioning the right age to stop cuddling your kids. How old is too old to cuddle your kids? 10? 11? 12? It’s opened up quite the debate!

Too old to cuddle your kids?

The mum, who is 37 years old and her husband, who is 38 years old, have a daughter who is 11 years old. The child is small for her age and gets treated like a younger child sometimes.

The mum explains how their daughter loves to hop on her and her husband’s lap and cuddle. However, she’s feeling like her daughter is too old for that. Recently the mum told the daughter to hop off her lap and it’s caused some serious tension between the two.

mum and tween daughter
Photo: alenkasm/bigstock

“She got really upset, got off me, went to her room, and slammed the door. She hasn’t tried to get in my lap since then and things are tense between us. She doesn’t talk to me unless she has to and when I hugged her goodnight last night she didn’t hug me back,” the mum explains. 

“I feel really guilty because I obviously hurt her feelings but I feel like she might be too old for sitting on my lap. Am I the Asshole?”

What we like about this particular Reddit thread is that, while most agree the mother is in the wrong, no one is referring to her as the Asshole. She didn’t purposely hurt anyone and she’s not completely out of line. She’s a mum, asking for advice, and worried that she may have made a mistake. Which is pretty relatable and understandable. We’ve all said something to our kids that we regret. And if you haven’t, just wait until they are teens!

What the commentators say

Overall, the majority of people agreed that the mother should not have cut her daughter off the cuddles. The main takeaway is that there isn’t an age limit for parental affection and putting a limit on this can be problematic.

As one commenter shared,  “I was told the same thing OP told her kid. I didn’t stop wanting or needing comfort from my mom, but it stopped me from acting on it. As an adult now with my own child, I’ll take the cuddles for as long as I can. I think it’s ridiculous to believe there’s an age cutoff.”

Accidentally saying or doing something to hurt your child’s feelings is probably one of the biggest factors in parental guilt. But hopefully with an apology and a promise of cuddles whenever she needs it, the mum can get her cuddly girl back. 

“Not wanting to baby or spoil your child is normal, though, and you shouldn’t be too hard on yourself. This is a very simple situation, you can easily fix it by apologizing to and hugging your daughter.”

What the experts say

There is no age limit to stopping cuddles, but, eventually, most kids will reduce their need for constant cuddles. The appropriate time for this is whenever they feel comfortable.

Here’s what Dr Laura Markham from Aha! Parenting has to say:

There is nothing at all to feel guilty about in connecting with your daughter, including snuggling her physically. A twelve-year-old may look like a young woman, but she is still mostly a child. She needs the physical contact of being held by her mother. You will find that in the course of her teenage years, she will not ask this of you eventually — because she will be able to center herself without it. But in the meantime, she still needs your love as her center.”

Another important thing to note is that cuddles or hugs are incredibly important for our mental health and growth.

Family therapist, Virginia Satir said that human beings need four hugs a day to survive. She went on further to include that eight hugs would help us maintain and twelve hugs daily would allow us to grow.

If your child is starting to outgrow the ‘hug’ or ‘cuddle’ stage, then we’ve got some great ideas on how to make your 4 hugs a day quota even if your teen is too cool for cuddles. 

Parenting is full of judgement and no matter how old your kids get, you may feel pressure to get them to that ‘next’ step. From breastfeeding to sleeping in their own beds, there is no age limit or right age. It’s simply what works for you and for your little one.

What to read next

Avatar of Jenna Galley

Born and raised in Canada, Jenna now lives in Far North Queensland with her tribe. When the mum-of-three is not writing, you can find her floating in the pool, watching princess movies, frolicking on the beach, bouncing her baby to sleep or nagging her older kids to put on their pants.

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