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Soooo much hugging & kissing (it's almost overwhelming)

post #1 of 8
Thread Starter 

My son is 4 and likely has SPD. I have another thread going on just general advice because we have Not had full evaluations yet, much less met with an OT. I've bought a number of books and am reading everything I can find...

 

But one thing that keeps popping up in my mind with him is his constant hugging/Kissing.

 

Don't get me wrong, I Love hugs! Who doesn't! I'm a single mom and this is my only child, We hug and kiss A Lot. And I'm SO thankful that my son Wants to hug & kiss.

The past year it has taken on a life of it's own though... we have to hold hands while he's in the cart at the grocery store, and he will just Grab my head and kiss me 10 times while we're in the check-out line. It's almost as if when he gets agitated or anxious, instead of tantruming or complaining, he kisses.  

And at those times, it's forceful, it's on the mouth, it's 10 times, it's all over your face and body and everywhere. People notice and most people say, "oh how sweet" (and it is! It really is!), but....

 

We were out to dinner with a couple very much like Grandparents, and he was All Over this man. So much that he couldn't eat. Kissing his hands, kissing his ears, grabbing his head and kissing his scalp. The Entire meal.

 - which is the first time I've ever seen him do this to someone other than me.

 

At home when it's just us, is normally contained to the snuggly wonderful, 20 kisses before bed. And So many kisses in the morning that you question whether or not you're actually Making out with your child. Sometimes it makes even me feel a little weird.

It's only really forceful and everywhere when he's being shy with a new stranger, or when I pick him up from school, or somewhere else out in public that he's unsure on how to act.

 

So... just curious on ideas on this. Last thing I want to do is discourage love and hugs, you know?

But it's getting to the point where it's almost needed to explain appropriate Times to kiss; something along the lines of Personal space, or other things he can do - while in public - instead of kissing me (and others).

 

It's a very confusing thing to have a struggle with!

post #2 of 8

How well did he know this man? Was it a stranger to him who was just similar to his grandfather, or a man he already knew well? If the man is a stranger/near stranger, that is definitely concerning. If he isn't used to being around other people, it's possible that he was doing it to handle the anxiety of being around strangers, which is a very bad habit for him to have. I imagine that he's able to walk, if he went up and started kissing or hugging the wrong person it could end very badly. 

 

I agree about not wanting to discourage affection, but it does seem like it's how he handles anxiety and it would be best if he had a method for handling anxiety that didn't rely on other people. Is it possible to get him to direct this to a stuffed animal or toy of some sort? Maybe present it in a "You can kiss mommy whenever you want, but [toy's name] loves hugs and kisses, too!" way so he knows that he can still get comfort from you. If he seems receptive to it, you could try encouraging him to kiss the toy when you start getting uncomfortable- again, emphasize that you're happy to kiss him and he's still able to kiss you. Make sure you have the toy with you when you go out. I don't know if you know what stimming is, it's often related to autism but is relevant to many other conditions (virtually everyone does it to a minor degree). It sounds like kissing is similar to a stim for him- a repetitive action that helps him manage anxiety. Reading about stimming and looking into stim toys may help you.

 

 

I know that parents on here have used things like weighted blankets. This might be something to consider (look into how to make sure they're safe), as it sounds like he wakes up with a lot of anxiety.

 

 

 

I hope that you're able to get evaluations soon. It would be good if you could get professional advice on handling this issue. You don't want your son to start having meltdowns, but he also really needs to learn appropriate boundaries and to be able to manage anxiety in a way that doesn't rely on others. This sounds like a very difficult situation to be in. You also seem to be handling it well, you clearly have a lot of patience with and empathy for your son, which is wonderful. I'm sure you'll be able to get him the help he needs.

post #3 of 8
Thread Starter 
Quote:
Originally Posted by sillysapling View Post
 

How well did he know this man? Was it a stranger to him who was just similar to his grandfather, or a man he already knew well? If the man is a stranger/near stranger, that is definitely concerning. If he isn't used to being around other people, it's possible that he was doing it to handle the anxiety of being around strangers, which is a very bad habit for him to have. I imagine that he's able to walk, if he went up and started kissing or hugging the wrong person it could end very badly.

 

This particular man & situation was the second time he'd met the man. The first was a dinner at their house, they're family friends that I grew up with, and after dinner the man started playing with my son and they definitely bonded - which is awesome and what I'd hoped for. But the kissing situation was the 2nd time they'd met, and out in public, and even the father/man person had to kind of pry my son off of him and keep repeating thank you for the hugs but it's time to Eat.

 

He has kissed many other fathers (and mothers, for that matter) at the park. Just random strangers, runs up to them in a hug and when they hug back... the kissing starts.

 

Again... it's awesome and charming and terribly sweet. But.... but but but.... I don't know how else to describe it. It's just A Lot of kissing.

To leave his preschool, he has to hug All the children - many of whom are running away from him or saying Ewww. He has to hug and profusely kiss his teachers.

 

I haven't read on Stimming, and certainly will. Sometimes it seems to come from genuine affection, and other times more of a coping being anxious.

post #4 of 8
Ive seem a fair amount of this in special education classrooms... Usually by the time they get to high school they have had plenty of time to grow out of it, or learn replacement behaviors, or boundaries...at least somewhat. I don't know how people teach kids to reduce the amount of unsolicited affection... Guessing redirection or substitution plays a part in that. So maybe limiting, maybe redirection, maybe behavior modification...or all of the above. It's worrisome, but in the scheme of things, a common enough behavior.
post #5 of 8
Quote:
Originally Posted by JordanKX View Post
 

To leave his preschool, he has to hug All the children - many of whom are running away from him or saying Ewww. He has to hug and profusely kiss his teachers.

 

 

 

 

What the heck is his teacher doing during this time? She needs to be setting some boundaries for herself and the other children. The rule at our school (i work with special needs students) is that kisses are for home, always ask before you hug, and hugs can't last longer than it takes to say "hug and release." Part of the teacher's role is to teach appropriate social behavior, and she is completely failing to do so by allowing him to act in ways that just aren't OK.

 

Meet with his teacher and ask her to NOT allow him to kiss him or anybody else at school, and to ASK before hugging anybody. Although he may be very upset at first, if this is consistent, then he will quickly learn. Brain storm with the teacher for a new ritual for leaving to transition him to.

 

Since being in situations where he doesn't know what to do is a trigger, prep him for those situations by talking about appropriate behaviors and choices for the specific situation, and bring something for him to do that you can re-direct him to.

 

I disagree that kids just outgrow this. We have a few in upper elementary and we still need to remind, and this is NOT cute in a 12 year old. This isn't about discouraging love, it is about treating others with respect. His behavior isn't respectful to others at all, it isn't loving. By teaching him how to appropriately interact with others, you are teaching him how to be more loving.

post #6 of 8

I 100% agree with Linda on the Move. I was horrified when I read that and honestly wasn't sure how to respond tactfully, and hoped someone with more experience would be able to.  I empathize with your son- I was the huggy kid in preschool who had to be taught it wasn't okay to hug people who didn't want to be hugged. Most people were fine with it, but there was one girl who explicitly did not want hugs, and I had to learn that my desire to hug her did not outweigh her right to decide who got to touch her and how. Your son needs to learn the same thing that I did, as he may be making those children very uncomfortable and they deserve to have a positive school experience just like he does.

 

I hope that you're able to get your son evaluated and that you can find someone who can help you with this. I know that it can be difficult with special needs children as they often don't respond to the same things as most children, which is a problem I had in school as well, and I hope that a specialist of some sort will be able to help you find what works for your son. Don't wait to address the issue at school, though, that should have been addressed the first day it happened, even if it's only been going on for a few days it's been too long.

post #7 of 8
Thread Starter 

Thank you thank you thank you!!

 

Since I wrote this post I have been working with him before we walk in to the grocery store (or anywhere) about his behavior - other things to do when he gets shy or overwhelmed.

I've been talking to his teacher about the kissy-itis, and she is going to start trying to curb it as well... "hugs are for mommy, not for other kids in class"... type things.

 

Because he DOES make other kids uncomfortable. Kids comment; kids most definitely say Ewwww, and push him away. And I'm considering Zero-Tolerance schools and problems he could have in the future - Yikes!

 

The past few days of picking him up from school have been our normal hug when he sees me and I get down on his level and tell him to "Say bye", and we're already holding hands at this point, so I'm keeping him from hugging the other kids. By me getting on his person before he has the chance to start hugging everyone is helping.

And again, his teacher is trying to help him throughout the day as well.

 

I both agree that it's a Respect factor... as well as a Safety factor. The other day he kissed a random father who was picking up. Absolutely terrified me! And when I asked him if he knew the man, he, of course said... "No". Do you know who his child is? No. OMG! Kiddo... you cannot be hugging strangers, especially strange men.  -- I didn't say that, but we had a big conversation in the car about "hugs and for mommy" only. Period.

 

So.... we're working on it. I really appreciate your advice and info; it's made me realize the real implications.

oh, and I've ordered him a weighted vest and a weighted blanket. Those may help too.

post #8 of 8
Quote:

Originally Posted by JordanKX View Post

 

And I'm considering Zero-Tolerance schools and problems he could have in the future - Yikes!

 

 

Although I agree that it is wise to work on this issue with him, children cannot be denied access to a Free and Appropriate Public Education in the Least Restrictive Environment possible because of anything related to a diagnosed condition. In other words, once he has a diagnoses,  he cannot be expelled for behaviors related to the diagnosis.

 

I think it sounds like you have a good plan! I suspect that you will see lots of progress.

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