June 02, 2010,
E.B. asks from Eveleth, MN on June 01, 2010
Overly Affectionate 6 Year Old
My son is going to be 6 tomorrow. He has always been a touchy kid. He hit, bit, shoved when he was angry as a toddler, and absolutely loved to snuggle more than anything. My husband's family is the same way--the boys, all in their 20's, still grapple each other when they get together, and the whole family hugs. I grew up in a family where hugging was reserved for the ends of big family gatherings, and even at that, my mom's side wasn't that way--and she kinda looked down on my dad's family for their affection. That said...my son is very affectionate, very touchy. He yells to his friends "I love you!" when he says good bye to them (he sees them daily) and he kisses his friends also. He also kisses his brother. I don't want to be the type of mom that yells at her kid for kissing...but I also don't think it's entirely appropriate that he kiss everyone. We've talked about reserving kissing for family (mom, dad, grandma, grandpa) but it comes up SO OFTEN I feel like we're constantly hounding him. Part of the reason this concerns me is that in my husband's family, all the boys--3 of them, including my husband--have been "busted" for touch. That sounds awful; it's not. My husband worked at camp with me and hugged campers. He was told to quit; he did. My brother in law hugged a student (in front of a whole gym full of spectators) and my other bil hugged a coworker, thinking it was reciprocal. It was; the boss didn't think so (he works at WalMart). Anyway--none of them were legal issues; all were given a warning and they were very frustrated with society, but stopped. SO...I don't know whether my inlaws have a little more touch than society can handle...whether my family was touch deprived...and where my son should fit in. He loves to wrestle with the neighbor kids (who also seem inclined toward wrestling), but the kissing seems overboard. Advice?
P.W. answers from San Francisco on June 01, 2010
I doubt he'll be doing it by 8 years old. If he's still doing it by then, maybe you can tell him to tone it down a bit. However, I think his friends will take care of that for you.
I think it's sweet and cute.
B.C. answers from Norfolk on June 01, 2010
Some families are natural huggers. Within the family it's usually not a problem. Your 6 yr old should be able to understand that not everybody is the same and some people like their personal space more than others. How would he feel if someone did something he didn't like to him all the time? Once he realizes not everyone enjoys the hugs, he should be better able to keep it to family members only.
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J.F. answers from Chicago on June 01, 2010
Our family is a touchy huggy one. My Mom's family ... not so much. I grew up much like you did and was teased for being a "marshmallow" and too "clingy" because I loved to hug my family and friends. Now ... I have a DH who is just as touchy / huggy, and our son is just like us. I think it's wonderful that your son is able to express his feelings like that. Yes, he needs to know that some people don't like it. No, he isn't overboard unless the contact isn't wanted and he's not stopping. This is something my own son is having to learn. It hurts his feelings, but I've told him that not everyone is as comfortable with hugs and kisses as we are and that it's OK. Not much else can be done beyond that. Enjoy it. When they become teenagers, we might not get the hugs and kisses as often as we do now.
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B.H. answers from Detroit on June 01, 2010
My 3 year old is also this way but not his 5 year old brother. Do you hug your son alot at home? I think my son is this way because I've always huged him numerous times a day and told him how much I love him. If we are setting on the couch watching tv I can't help but to grab and snuggle with him. Now, he always stops me whatever I'm doing and sometimes I could be busy and he tells me that he loves me and wants to give me a kiss. I've done this with his brother too but he does not get as carried away with it. I know it sounds crazy but I could be in the other room and will just shout out "I love you boys" and they say I love you too mommie.
I would not worry about it too much. He will probably grow out of it meaning that he will learn the appropropriate times and places to display his affection for thoe ones he loves.
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M.M. answers from Chicago on June 01, 2010
Wow..I think what you are sharing is so unique and heartwarming. The world has become a very cold harsh and cruel place. If more people were like your son and husbands family the world would definitely be a better place.
I think your son being affectionate is something you should cherish. Of course it is always good to talk to him about when and where but so many men go through life unable to show any emotion at all. I think you are doing the right thing by reserving the kisses for home...
I grew up in a very loving family so for me hugs and affection is all part of life. My husband is the total opposite. It has taken me years to win him over.
My youngest son is very sensitive but not overly affectionate. But I can understand your concerns as a mother.
Blessings to you and your whole family especially to that sweet little boy of yours..
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J.M. answers from Minneapolis on June 02, 2010
I love that he is so affectionate. I would just want to find a way to help him express his affection in ways that don't result in HIM getting his feelings hurt. Someday, he's going to hug someone who didn't want it, and he's going to feel hurt. So I'd look for ways to avoid that.
I like the idea of the "circle of friends". you could create the circle on a poster, put pictures of him doing the affectionate things to people who belong in each circle, so he can really get it.
as the circles get farther out, help him find ways to interact with people that are OK for him and them. like, drawing on another kid's back during story time instead of cuddles, telling them: "i can't wait to see you!" instead of "i love you!"
it also sounds like he might benefit from really physical activity, team sports, contact sports. i'd look into those as a way for him to express his physical connections with people.
J.L. answers from Milwaukee on June 02, 2010
Have you heard about the "circle of friends" approach? It's used to teach kids (especially those with special needs, but appropriate for all kids) what is and is not appropriate with different groups of people in a visual way. It might be something that you could use to discuss touch with your son--and I agree that it's time for him to start learning what is and isn't appropriate, even if it's just for his own safety. You wouldn't want him being overly affectionate with an unsafe person. This link is written specifically for kids with autism, but it explains the concept really well and includes a visual: http://sites.google.com/site/autismhome/Home/special-situ... . If you try it, you'll want to review it often, especially before you take him to a social situation (like the park or school) and after he is overly affectionate with others.
M.B. answers from Allentown on June 01, 2010
First of all, your son is 6, and being overly affectionate could just be a phase, maybe it is genetic, maybe it's just his personality, who knows. I have 2 girls (no boys), so I don't know what to tell you.
Your son might be going thru things emotionally @ school (maybe he's teased, bullied, etc....not to freak U out, but unless U ask him or his teachers, how will U find out?), and maybe his being so affectionate is HIS way of dealing with how he feels about the social ____@____.com to your pediatrician, too. Find out if he/she recommends anything, if U should b concerned, etc. Also, find out from the Dr. if he/she thinks that your son should be tested / evaluated?
Maybe get your son involved in activities that keep him occupied w/out being in a competitive setting...for example, maybe have him do art projects w/ the family @ home? Have him help U w/ cooking/baking? Or, just let him get dirty in the backyard w/ having adventures w/ his friends...take him to interesting places that could spark his imagination, too (museums, historic landmarks, zoo's, family fun centers, etc.).
Without coming off as judgmental, I was just curious...have U talked to your son about his behavior w/out making him feel self-conscious? If U did, how did that go?
I can also understand your concern for your son as he gets older in terms of legal matters w/ hugging co-workers, bosses, colleagues, etc. Funny thing, too, that when humans are babies, they can suffer greatly if we're not HUGGED and CUDDLED enough, so go figure!
After all is said and done, your son is 6. He loves you and all his other family members, I'm sure. This could just be temporary, I don't know for sure, I'm no expert. He could also be learning his behavior from extended male family members and just think that it's ok.
Hope I was helpful, sorry if I wasn't :( Hang in there, I'm sure that you'll find the answers U need!
C.F. answers from Milwaukee on June 02, 2010
My 4 year old is overly affectionate too! She loves to hug everyone and is always making sure everyone is ok! I have to tell her to ask before she goes and hugs people. Last year she knocked a girl down hugging her. My family isn't very touchy either so it's hard for me to show affection sometimes. My best advice is to talk about it often and how kissing is not appropiate. Maybe tell him it's for Mom and Dad only.