Unaffectionate 4 year old...worry?

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Registered: 06-16-2003
Unaffectionate 4 year old...worry?
6
Mon, 06-16-2003 - 10:34am
Hi, new here with an almost 5 year old boy (Duncan) and almost 2 girl (Anna). My question is about Duncan who is outgoing, funny, kind to other kids, bright and more! He is extremely unaffectionate towards adults. Not just teachers or friends, but family as well. He never wants to hug or kiss grandparents or other family members. He was (and still is) a very needy baby who only wanted to be held by mommy or daddy. If anyone simply reaches out to pat his head, he gets really angry. He hit a saleswoman in the shoe store the other day when she gently touched his chin. I never pushed him to give hugs and got him to high-five demanding family members who wouldn't give up trying to get a hug from him. It has always been on my mind but now even more because his sister is the exact opposite. She snuggles and hugs and kisses anyone! We just had a weekend with my inlaws and of course, they wouldn't stop going on and on about how sweet and generous she is with her affection and how Duncan never wants to be touched. (Unfortunately, they were with us in the shoe store as well!) I feel sad for him because I'm sure that he sensed their disapproval and I don't know what to say to people about it anymore. I have always told people to stop asking and maybe he would give them a hug, but I know he won't. He is affectionate with my husband, his sister and me. I can't imagine that this is something that he will grow out of because he has always been this way. I think people lose patience with him and are less understanding of his typical 4 year old stuff because of it. It has become the number one thing people talk about when his name comes up. Please tell me someone else is experiencing something similar and give me some witty replies for the hug-hungry people in our lives!

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Registered: 06-01-2003
Mon, 06-16-2003 - 10:53am
I really don't know how to respond here because I don't have a DS, and while I am sure the same could easily happen with a DD, I haven't really experienced it yet, so I don't know. I did feel like writing to you though because when I was a little girl I was much like your son. I was fine with cuddling, hugs & kisses from my parents or my maternal grandparents, but with ANYONE else - family friends, relatives, even my paternal grandparents I wasn't as close to - I would NOT kiss/hug them etc. I was really defensive when they tried and it used to make my grandmother and aunt cry when I would run off or refuse to hug them. I think adults in general should be a little more respectful of children's wishes in this area. Hugs are great but is it really worth a fight or making the child feel uncomfortable? I don't think so. I think people in stores, salesclerks, and other strangers, are very rude if they touch my child. I am having a baby in Nov and I really dread the strangers who will walk right up and touch her and get her all germy! LOL In elementary school there were girls who would always go up and hug the teacher, even at age 8 I remember thinking "oh my goodness that is SOOOOO WEIRD!" My DD (4.5) I consider quite affectionate but then I see other girls who are far more affectionate. She loves to cuddle with DH & I on the couch watching a movie but if we started hugging and kissing on her while out for dinner in a restaurant she would immediately squirm away from us...I've seen other kids who seemed totally comfortable with that scenario. What's right for one child may not be right for the next. I really think if your DS seems fairly comfortable with touch from those closest to him (you, etc) then you shouldn't worry too much. I really doubt it's an abuse thing or a serious problem. When you think about it, adults are the same way, some huggy, some not. Good luck! Gretchen
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Registered: 06-16-2003
Tue, 06-17-2003 - 8:21am
Thank you Gretchen! That does make me feel much better. He's a great kid and I'm just going to let this go. If any one gets upset at not getting a hug, I'll hug them! Julia
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Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 06-17-2003 - 8:49am
Boy, he sure sounds just fine to me! He doesn't even sound "unaffectionate," just very selective. Hugs from kids are almost always nice, but how "affectionate" is a hug from a kid who would just as soon hug the grocery store clerk?

My DS is extremely cuddly, but also only with a very small group of people. And that group hasn't always included even all the family members he has always freely admitted he loves (such as his aunt and uncle or even my parents). I did talk to him one night and expressly told him it would mean a lot to his grandparents if he would give them a hug and that it was fine with me if he did. Turns out that was fine with him to try, he just was out of the habit, and now he does hug them without any issue at all, still usually only when they ask. (I know his reaction to the thought of hugging his teachers, who he likes and respects, would be about the same as mine if you asked me to hug my husband's boss - ewww, you've got to be joking!- and you know, that's A-OK with me!) I don't know if telling him they'd respond positively if he did hug them is something you've tried or not. Certainly, having them walking around acting wounded that he doesn't hug them and comparing him negatively to his sister is not going to encourage him to have the 'warm fuzzies' about them! You're absolutely right, they do have very good radar for that kind of thing!

Hope that helps a bit!

Donna

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Registered: 03-28-2003
Tue, 06-17-2003 - 10:12am
I hear you. I have 2 dd's who are like your ds & dd. My oldest is very affectionate, but the younger, WOW!!!! She is the same as Duncan. Mom, Dad, & sister always get love, but other than that, you have to read her moods. While she does not mind people touching her, is she is in her mood, she will not hug people. I used to get upset, but now I just look at people and tell them, that is her personality. Maybe next time. & the more they push, the more she fights it. This is just a comfort zone for Duncan. He does not like being touched, then don't force it. And "family" should respect that, but we all know about "family". Our families have just accepted the fact that they may not get any "love" from our youngest. And they know that if they push I get angry. This may be something that he will grow out of, and if not, Oh Well! This is his personality. I hope this helps. I guess what I am saying is: This is normal for him, and that is what matters.

josie

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Registered: 03-26-2003
Tue, 06-17-2003 - 12:47pm
I think this is faily normal, either you are a hugger or you are not. I came from a family of nonhuggers and married into a family of huggers. I make sure to hug my immediate family other than that I am fine not to hug anyone else.

My DD Shelby is not a hugger either she is just in the past year starting to talk and play with my brother, in the past she wouldn't have anything to do with him at ALL. He was upset but didn't push it thank goodness. She is now to the point she is comfortable hugging my mom & dad (who she sees almost every day). MIL, SIL,& brother sometimes if they ask for hugs. But not FIL, step MIL, step FIL or anyone she doesn't know very well.

I wish "family" would not push this especially when children are uncomfortable kids should not be mad to feel bad about it. My family knows how I feel I have let them all know if she doesn't want to hug you she doesn't have to. It will be interesting to see if her little sis is a hugger or not.

Kris, Shelby(2/99), Taylor(3/02)

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Registered: 03-27-2003
Sat, 06-21-2003 - 9:26am
I totally agree with Donna. There is nothing abnormal about a child not wanting everyone and their uncle to touch him! LOL! He is just more sensitive about his personal space. I would respect that, and once he learns that others really DO respect his personal space, he'll be more giving of it. I would certainly have a talk with the inlaws. Every child is different. Words like that are just hurtful and unkind. They probably don't realize it, but they are pushing their grandson from them more and more with every word. Who feels like sharing affection when they feel like they aren't loved to begin with???? Poor baby. make sure you distract him when they are around. I can't imagine hearing so many negative things about me from me loved ones. Try sharing the things that he is really wonderful at! Give them something to talk about for real, mommy! =) That way they can talk about both of their grandchildren in a positive light! That would be a great conversation over coffee! *wink*

Hope this helps! I welcome you to the board!!!!!

Janet =)

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