My kids are not always in the most lovable of moods. My daughter, the princess, is in a phase that involves a lot of stalling, negotiating, and extreme slow motion. Sometimes, when she's frustrated or tired, she picks at me on purpose. She'll act like she wants to snuggle and then covers my nose to see if it annoys me. She'll start kicking me and when I tell her to stop she'll say she's just doing her exercises and her feet need something to press against.
I know that these actions are her way of getting attention when she feels vulnerable for some reason, but they still drive me kind of nuts. This week, I started hugging her every time I get really annoyed with her. Instead of fussing or putting her in timeout, I ask if she needs a hug. She usually says yes and after the bear hugs are over, we can move on.
I'm pretty sure that most of this has to do with her insecurity about her little brother who is still rather new (5 months) to our family. Today she came to the door of the bathroom while I was using the facilities and shouted, "I need a hug from Mama!" When I came out of the bathroom she was gone and playing in her room, but the baby was crying so I picked him up. Little Princess then showed up and said, "you still can't give me a hug" complete with pitiful face and downcast eyes.
I put down my boy and wrapped her up in my lap. We played Sharks in the Water and saved countless stuffed animals from the ravenous sharks that live in the carpet. She can still push my buttons, but I'm going to keep hugging her anyway.