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Aggressively affectionate and attached

post #1 of 6
Thread Starter 

I have a five year old cuddle bug who is steadily turning more into a cuddle monster. And normally this would be a good thing except when it's not and it has been driving me insane. She's always been a high needs kind of kid. She spent the entirety of her first year alive wrapped onto Mommy and the subsequent 4 years trying to stay as close to Mommy as possible.


We still cosleep and we're homeschooling now so she's around me. all. the. time. When I'm home (and I most often am) she wants 110% of my attention. She always wants me to sit right next to her at all times and her idea of a great day is sitting on Mommy's lap all the time. Which, again, would be great if I didn't have other things to do. But she's never been accepting of that and puts up a hell of a fit if I try to get up. If I try to sit in my computer chair (I work from home so I have to), she'll toss herself bodily onto the chair and generally has to be forcibly removed. We ask nicely and she refuses. We've got a three strikes and you're out policy and she takes it to the limit and then some.


And she's the most affectionate little thing ever. She's very sweet but sometimes... I don't know, it's like she loses it. It's not "Mommy, can I kiss you?" it's more like kiss you over and over again. Three kisses is cute; thirty kisses while I'm protesting, "No, that's enough now" with her resembling an alien face hugger is not. Hugs, same deal. There's hugging, cuddling, and glomping -- cute. Then there's the getting a running start, full force morning GLOMP which would be cute maybe the first and second time, but three times into it, when you're already hurting and you've asked her to stop, is so not cute and can be pretty painful, especially when you've got a chronic illness. (I've got lupus and there are days when I'm in severe pain.) She'll just keep ramming in, more and more, screaming, "Hugs! Hugs! Hugs!" 


She has been diagnosed with ADHD (combined) and has very poor impulse control, worse than an average child her age. The hyperactivity is definitely a factor but the fact that she just can't seem to stop herself when we've asked her to is bad. What's worse it that these are signs of affection. I can tell she's confused. We've tried explaining to her that kissing and hugging and cuddling is fine but when you start to hurt someone or they say no, you need to stop. But she just doesn't get it!


This morning I had to yell at her because she did one of her flying hug back tackles from behind as I was kneeling, stepping on my leg and hurting me pretty bad. She was so hurt that I yelled at her that she was crying about it an hour later in the car. I know that she was just trying to show me that she loves me but she just can't seem to do it in calmer ways. I felt so bad, like the worst mom in the world. :( I hate yelling at her but redirecting this child is like trying to redirect a gale force wind. It just doesn't work. Positive reinforcement for gentle hugs only work so much before she gets the urge to be aggressive with her affection again and it's like she's forgotten it all :( He~~lp.

post #2 of 6

It is tough - I know some days I just don't want someone crawling all over me and it's easy to hurt their little feelings.  Maybe dedicate half an hour to hard cuddling every day and see if you can fulfill her need for that on your own schedule? 

post #3 of 6

have you heard of sensory processing disorder?


i would read up on that. and read the activities book too. 


your child migth now have SPD but some of the OT of SPD might help like a weighted blanket during her hard times.


long classes? where seh can do stuff with other kids like her. 


being the mother of an only i esp. now understand how very isolating it can be for them esp. when they are social. dd NEVER EVER wanted to be the only child. 

post #4 of 6

I don't have any answers for you, but I do have empathy! hug.gif  This is EXACTLY my two year old (granted, he's younger, but I don't see it changing...).


He's always been a high needs kid, is still attached to me all day every day, nursing like a newborn. smile.gif  I think the SPD link may be part of it here...he has gone through periods where he was ULTRA sensitive to stimuli (would melt down for days following a family get together), sounds, crowds, clothing, etc.  Ever since he could walk, he carries around weights for fun, loves spicy food, daredevil - that kind of thing.  Horrible time with transitions (full force emotional storms...and quite tenacious, like your lil one!) that has recently improved a little bit.  These days...his energy is through the ROOF!


Like your DD, it's often focused on affection - he grits his teeth and charges at me - sometimes it's hugs, squeezes and cuddles - but lots of times it's like he can't even contain himself and it's more tackles/jumping on me/pummeling/kicking than typical expressions of affection.  But the intent is the same - it's like he has this overwhelming drive to be as close to me as humanly possible, and he gets all revved up and has to release that energy somehow.


I've tried teaching him to attack a pillow instead of me (this just doesn't give him his mommy closeness fix) - I've tried giving him things to chew on.  We focus on gentle touch.  I try to give him tons of attention, one-on-one time (this is basically every moment of every day, non-stop).  Lots of nursing and cuddles.  I even give him some bear hugs to try to give him that pressure he needs.  I try to give him lots of indoor and outdoor exercise time, but it has no discernible effect.


Also, I hear you on the pain - I have lupus, too. stillheart.gif


I checked a couple books out from the library on SPD - some of them (like The Out-of-Sync Child Has Fun) have tips and exercises you can do to help meet their sensory needs.  I also just LOVE Raising Your Spirited Child - I think I would be totally lost without that book. So helpful for understanding and reframing the traits and behavior of extra intense/persistent/sensitive/active kiddos.


Will be following!

post #5 of 6

I agree with the others, sounds like your kiddo is doing some sensory seeking. You can make some fairly easy changes in your day to make sure she gets the input she needs. Heavy blankets or vest, an excercise ball for rolling on and bouncing, a mini trampoline, a swing outside or in your basement. Pile your couch pillows on her and push, wrap her up tight in a blanket or towel, also for time in a sandbox or play designed to be messy - mud/clean mud, rice or bean sensory play. I also agree some time with an OT would be ideal. Your daughter could get the input she needs and you could observe and get ideas on ways you can work with her at home.

post #6 of 6

Hi, I relate very much to your post! My son is eight and I've had a lot of similar problems. His affection used to involve things like headbutting me in the stomach or squeezing my neck so tight it really hurt. At one point I felt as if I ended up shouting every time he showed me affection which was so sad. :( I have since realised that he has a lot of sensory processing issues. He's under sensitive to most stimulation (temperature and light pain in particular) which explains a lot! I also think he may have Aspergers and I'm just beginning the process of seeking a diagnosis, which would explain him not picking up on the social cues or my emotional state.


Something which really helped was differentiating clearly and simply the difference between touch that he enjoys and touch that I enjoy. He finds gentle touch almost unbearable at times. It 'hurts' him and feels horrible, so I guess he would never think to give a gentle hug. One day I sat him down and said: "you like hugs like this", I squeezed him really hard. His happy sigh confirmed it! "That is a Jessy hug", I said. "I like hugs like this", I gave him a gentle hug. "That is a Lucy hug" (he's always called me by my name). I invited him to try it. We then practiced and I re-enforced it by saying "Jessy hug, Lucy hug" each time. After that, if he was getting a bit full on I would say "Lucy hug! Lucy hug!" and he would usually manage to do a more gentle one. I'd then always give him a Jessy hug afterwards! Sometimes I'd offer one if he was getting a bit rough.


More recently I've introduced other differences - he likes hard pressure massage, where as I enjoy light back scratches. Those are other things we can do for one another, re-enforcing the idea that different things feel good to different people.


I have pain issues with my body too so it can be hard to play rough and tumble, but I try to remember to provide stimulation that he likes such as squashing and squeezing and heavy pressure, as I think others are right, that sometimes a child with sensory issues is seeking the stimulation that calms and comforts them.


I hope some of this helps. I used to feel tearful sometimes about the fact I so rarely enjoyed a pleasant moment of affection with my son. It can be very upsetting.

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