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#1 of 19 Old 07-25-2013, 03:50 PM - Thread Starter
 
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My baby is almost one year old and I still get SUPER upset/panicky when strangers touch him. Is that normal? Or are most people letting their kids roll around on dirty floors by now? I should tell you upfront that I have no reason to be overly concerned, he has a healthy immune system, has never been sick, and is exclusively breastfed.

 

Here's a summary of my concern:

 

1-I have diagnosed OCD/Anxiety about germs, which peaked during my pregnancy, but has always been an underlying theme in my life since I was a child with obsessive handwashing. So, my obsessiveness about germs and my anxiety associated with this creates unrealistic scenarios in my mind that I envision will happen if a stranger touches my baby.

 

2-I feel that strangers invade a child/baby's space in ways that they would NEVER invade an adults space. As in, people will try to touch my baby's face, hands, hair, and head, which they would certainly not do to me. So, I don't like the invasion of his space.

 

3-We teach our children stranger danger from a young age, yet somehow I should be OK with strangers pawing at my baby/toddler without my permission. 

 

4-It's just icky. I don't know where you/your hands have been and I don't want them going all over my child.

 

So, what I want to know is. What is "normal"? Do most parents feel concerned about this or not at all? I'm trying to gauge if my concern is related to my OCD or parenting reaction or both. 

 

Please give me your insight mommies!


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#2 of 19 Old 07-25-2013, 04:12 PM
 
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Well, I can only speak for myself and say that I was not like that but I know mothers who were more paranoid than me and others who were less. I figured every germ DS came in contact with was helping his immune system get stronger. It's important for him to get exposure to all kinds of things so that they don't make him sick later in life.

As for "stranger danger", I have never been a fan of this term. I think it's important to build my son's trust in others and also to trust his "gut" in certain situations. There could be times when he needs a stranger's help, and unless they are trying to get him into their van by telling him there are puppies inside, I think it's best to assume first that people have good intentions. Unless your instinct tells you otherwise.

I do have those times when I envision something crazy awful happening to my kid. I have an exercise that I do that helps. I simply ask myself, "Is that actually happening? Does it have to happen?" Of course the answer is no. Then I envision us at our next activity without the awful thing happening. It really helps me to get in the present moment and out of fantasy mode.

I hope this helps!
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#3 of 19 Old 07-25-2013, 06:14 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well, I can only speak for myself and say that I was not like that but I know mothers who were more paranoid than me and others who were less. I figured every germ DS came in contact with was helping his immune system get stronger. It's important for him to get exposure to all kinds of things so that they don't make him sick later in life.

As for "stranger danger", I have never been a fan of this term. I think it's important to build my son's trust in others and also to trust his "gut" in certain situations. There could be times when he needs a stranger's help, and unless they are trying to get him into their van by telling him there are puppies inside, I think it's best to assume first that people have good intentions. Unless your instinct tells you otherwise.

I do have those times when I envision something crazy awful happening to my kid. I have an exercise that I do that helps. I simply ask myself, "Is that actually happening? Does it have to happen?" Of course the answer is no. Then I envision us at our next activity without the awful thing happening. It really helps me to get in the present moment and out of fantasy mode.

I hope this helps!

Thanks!


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#4 of 19 Old 07-25-2013, 07:44 PM
 
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What do you mean by "dirty floors"? Are you talking about your own floors that could just use a little sweeping or are you talking about other people's floors or public floors? I was okay with letting my baby roll on our own floor and it was always moderately clean. If it was really dirty i wouldnt have let her nor would i let her do that anywhere else.

When it comes to strangers wanting to touch your baby, i understand your concern over that. For me i particularly cant stand it when a child does it because kids spread germs like crazy. I would usually make a note of where on her body she was touched and then clean it with a baby wipe as soon as i can. Maybe that makes me neurotic but i'd rather keep the germs to a minimum, at least during her first few years. Another thing that helped with strangers is putting her in a carrier. This seems to prevent people from touching probably because it makes them feel awkward to be reaching into your personal space.

I don't consider myself overly considered with germs, just moderately so. I get what you're feeling, though, about strangers and germs. I think its normal to feel that way. If you're obsessing over it, though, you might want to take a look at that and see if you can work through the issue or maybe see a therapist. Obsessing is never good and it often impairs your ability to know when something is truly dangerous. For example, i dont HAVE to clean where someone touched her, i just do it for the sake of cleanliness. If i felt an uncontrollable desire to do that then i would see it as a problem i need to work on. I don't want my kids to learn its okay to be obsessive and i also don't like feeling out-of-control of my own mind and will.

I like to remind myself that everyone has both good and bad bacteria that they spread around. I've read that you're actually diminishing the good bacteria you have in your gut if you wash your hands too much because a lot of the bacteria we have in our bodies comes from the bacteria on our hands and that bacteria comes from our environment, which includes other people.
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#5 of 19 Old 07-26-2013, 07:42 AM
 
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As for "stranger danger", I have never been a fan of this term. I think it's important to build my son's trust in others and also to trust his "gut" in certain situations. There could be times when he needs a stranger's help, and unless they are trying to get him into their van by telling him there are puppies inside, I think it's best to assume first that people have good intentions. Unless your instinct tells you otherwise.

I agree with this. Our culture's fear of strangers is not borne out by crime statistics, as most crimes against children are committed by someone known and trusted by the child and/or family. The FBI doesn't even support the teaching of "stranger danger" anymore, and there are reasons to believe that it may actually be detrimental to a child's safety. If a child is actually lost, or hurt, or in danger, the safest thing they can do is approach the first safe-looking adult they see. They also need to opportunities to develop an instinct that will alert them when a person seems "off." They don't have to be exposed to dangerous people to develop this instinct, but they do need to actually interact with the people around them in safe situations (like the park and the grocery store).

Come to think of it, kids need exposure to strangers much the same way they need exposure to germs. They don't need to go to bed with a smallpox blanket, or roll around on the floor of a public bathroom, but exposure to regular, everyday germs in reasonable amounts is necessary to develop their immune system, which will ultimately protect them from getting sick. In both cases, it's a matter of the importance of developing your gut!:P

All that said, I don't like being touched by strangers, and I don't like it when people just reach out and touch my kids. It may not be dangerous, but it's so rude. I totally agree with the PP who suggested keeping baby in a carrier when you are out and about. If someone reaches out to touch your baby, step back. Hopefully they'll get the hint!

Michelle, wife to DH, and momma to DD16, DS15, DS12, DS10, DD9, DD7, DS5, and baby girl born Christmas Eve 2013!
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#6 of 19 Old 07-26-2013, 09:01 AM
 
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I don't love Stranger Danger as a concept to teach kids.  I think we're better off teaching our children how to identify which people are safest to approach for help, if they need it (it is generally safer to pick a person and ask them to help you then it is to wait for whoever notices you're floundering and chooses to either help you or take advantage). 

 

That said:  I don't want random strangers touching my kids.  We live in a city, they have plenty of incidental contact with random strangers, and I want them to have the concept that when a stranger touches you without permission, you should fuss about it.

 

My DD was premature, and we had to be very careful about her and germs when she was small.  I was shocked by how many people thought it was okay to touch her without permission, to stick their hands straight in her mouth when she was a baby, even to reach into the sling on my chest to do it.  I had been totally unaware of this behavior with my DS, and having to think about infection control brought it into focus for me in a whole new way.  By the time DD was one, I'd mellowed out some - she was healthy, and she was picking up gross things off the playground to put into her own mouth, and people don't do that as much to children they think have teeth. 

 

I think enforcing physical boundaries for a toddler is totally okay.  He can't do it himself yet.

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#7 of 19 Old 07-26-2013, 10:19 AM
 
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That said:  I don't want random strangers touching my kids.  We live in a city, they have plenty of incidental contact with random strangers, and I want them to have the concept that when a stranger touches you without permission, you should fuss about it.

I totally agree. If a random stranger reached out and touched my face, I would be thoroughly creeped out. Depending on the circumstance, my DH might hit them! I don't think kids should have to put up with behavior from strangers that would be totally unacceptable if they were older. They have a right to personal boundaries just like anyone else!

Michelle, wife to DH, and momma to DD16, DS15, DS12, DS10, DD9, DD7, DS5, and baby girl born Christmas Eve 2013!
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#8 of 19 Old 07-26-2013, 11:35 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I think enforcing physical boundaries for a toddler is totally okay.  He can't do it himself yet.

How do you do this without sounding "overwhelming"? I seem to sound crazy when I tell people not to touch my child. But the more I've done it, the less I care that I do sound a little crazy.

 

For example, most recently, we were out at an outdoor restaurant on a Sunday afternoon (not exactly wild and crazy) listening to a band when a woman came up and touched my baby who was sitting on my lap (as close as possible to me). She positioned herself RIGHT in front of us holding both his hands and leaned down with her face on top of his head. She was probably two inches from my face telling me how cute he is.

 

Trust me when I say that I try to send off "UNAPPROACHABLE" signals to people anyway with my body language. Any mommies...Please tell me what you would have done? She came in from the side and I didn't see her until she was, quite literally, on top of us. Otherwise I would have stopped the whole thing before it got to that point.


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#9 of 19 Old 07-26-2013, 11:44 AM - Thread Starter
 
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The FBI doesn't even support the teaching of "stranger danger" anymore, and there are reasons to believe that it may actually be detrimental to a child's safety. 

 

I just want to say, while they are not using the term necessarily, they are still teaching the concept http://www.fbi.gov/fun-games/kids/kids-safety (click to the third slide) the second rule is "Stay away from strangers". 


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#10 of 19 Old 07-26-2013, 11:59 AM
 
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How do you do this without sounding "overwhelming"? I seem to sound crazy when I tell people not to touch my child. But the more I've done it, the less I care that I do sound a little crazy.

For example, most recently, we were out at an outdoor restaurant on a Sunday afternoon (not exactly wild and crazy) listening to a band when a woman came up and touched my baby who was sitting on my lap (as close as possible to me). She positioned herself RIGHT in front of us holding both his hands and leaned down with her face on top of his head. She was probably two inches from my face telling me how cute he is.

Trust me when I say that I try to send off "UNAPPROACHABLE" signals to people anyway with my body language. Any mommies...Please tell me what you would have done? She came in from the side and I didn't see her until she was, quite literally, on top of us. Otherwise I would have stopped the whole thing before it got to that point.

Ugh, how rude! I think I would have probably instinctively leaned away, because that's just my reaction to unwanted touch. I don't know what would be a polite thing to say. I think, "Please don't touch her," is good enough. I'm not sure people who behave that rudely deserve an explanation when they offend someone. :-\

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#11 of 19 Old 07-26-2013, 12:13 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Ugh, how rude! I think I would have probably instinctively leaned away, because that's just my reaction to unwanted touch. I don't know what would be a polite thing to say. I think, "Please don't touch her," is good enough. I'm not sure people who behave that rudely deserve an explanation when they offend someone. :-\

I wish I could have leaned away!! Unfortunately I was at a picnic table and would have had to actually do a back flip over the table (my back was to the table part). irked.gif I am usually very good at escaping awkward situations! It happened so fast, which left me feeling violated. I know that sounds ridiculous but I DO NOT want to be touched by strangers. And I do NOT want them touching my baby. If she would have crept in slowly, things would have gone different. I'm good at fending off those types of personal space invasions, but I was looking straight ahead and then BAM there she was, in my face, pawing at my baby. nono.gif


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#12 of 19 Old 07-26-2013, 12:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess I always take some comfort though in knowing that certainly all babies, not just mine, are exposed to germs and new people. And my little guy is exposed to a fraction, or less, of the germs that babies in daycare centers are exposed to. So, any unwanted stranger touch is still probably WAY less germ interaction than most kids get. 


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#13 of 19 Old 07-26-2013, 01:12 PM - Thread Starter
 
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What do you mean by "dirty floors"? Are you talking about your own floors that could just use a little sweeping or are you talking about other people's floors or public floors? I was okay with letting my baby roll on our own floor and it was always moderately clean. If it was really dirty i wouldnt have let her nor would i let her do that anywhere else.

When it comes to strangers wanting to touch your baby, i understand your concern over that. For me i particularly cant stand it when a child does it because kids spread germs like crazy. I would usually make a note of where on her body she was touched and then clean it with a baby wipe as soon as i can. Maybe that makes me neurotic but i'd rather keep the germs to a minimum, at least during her first few years. Another thing that helped with strangers is putting her in a carrier. This seems to prevent people from touching probably because it makes them feel awkward to be reaching into your personal space.

I don't consider myself overly considered with germs, just moderately so. I get what you're feeling, though, about strangers and germs. I think its normal to feel that way. If you're obsessing over it, though, you might want to take a look at that and see if you can work through the issue or maybe see a therapist. Obsessing is never good and it often impairs your ability to know when something is truly dangerous. For example, i dont HAVE to clean where someone touched her, i just do it for the sake of cleanliness. If i felt an uncontrollable desire to do that then i would see it as a problem i need to work on. I don't want my kids to learn its okay to be obsessive and i also don't like feeling out-of-control of my own mind and will.

I like to remind myself that everyone has both good and bad bacteria that they spread around. I've read that you're actually diminishing the good bacteria you have in your gut if you wash your hands too much because a lot of the bacteria we have in our bodies comes from the bacteria on our hands and that bacteria comes from our environment, which includes other people.

 

I have felt obsessive before. I don't feel like that as much now; like I said, for me, it peaked during my pregnancy. Now I feel more of an anxiety about strangers touching my baby in general, rather than a specific obsessive feeling about needing to wipe him off, etc. 


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#14 of 19 Old 07-26-2013, 03:09 PM
 
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Cheer, that is a textbook situation for going ahead and sounding crazy. And so stupid of her! She just has no idea how you'll respond, and it could be anything.

My Dh was both abused and bullied as a kid, and while he has done a lot of work on it, he still has an sutomstic, physicak, self defense reaction when people sneak up on him. I try to help keep an eye on his perimeter when we're out, but people like that woman are taking a very real risk of getting punched.Dh would be shocky and apologetic about it, but that wouldnt make it less painful.
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#15 of 19 Old 07-27-2013, 03:08 AM - Thread Starter
 
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If only I could have gotten words out fast enough...


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#16 of 19 Old 07-27-2013, 06:57 AM
 
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Cheer, you can't blame yourself. You shouldn't have to live your life on guard against rude people sneaking up on you.

Michelle, wife to DH, and momma to DD16, DS15, DS12, DS10, DD9, DD7, DS5, and baby girl born Christmas Eve 2013!
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#17 of 19 Old 07-27-2013, 06:20 PM
 
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OP...you are not alone! joy.gif

I have some diagnosed conditions that exacerbate normal mama bear concerns about my 3 year old being touched. Many people fall into categories of "clean" or "dirty" to me, and the basis of it has very little to do with actual physical appearances regarding cleanliness.

If a stranger wants to touch my kid (though he is old enough and expressive enough to fend off some people, including me when I want a hug or kiss...I respect his expression and say "That is okay...it is all your body.") and it is not cool with me, I have lied and said, "I am sorry, he just got over a cold." Again, not really necessary now that he is older.

MIL is always after him for kisses...you can guess which category she falls into for me...and my son will sometimes hug her, but never kiss her. Then she fake cries and says cool things like "Boo hoo, you don't love grandma." He could care less. This is her MO and she has never realized her reaction has never once changed his behavior. I sometimes triangulate and model for her by saying "Maybe you and grandma could have a high five later." Or whatever.

When he was a baby, I always kept him in socks or soft slippers because I could not stand anybody but me or his dad touching his feet.

I know I am not "normal." Chalk up one more oddity for me.

Babywearing kicks butt in this department. Keeps 'em close and not as much pressure to play that freaky pass-the-baby crap.

Regarding "Stanger Danger," as a PP might have said, most danger (molestation, abduction) is committed by family and friends; however, I believe there is certainly merit in teaching children to be aware of their surroundings, engage in safer practices like avoiding wearing clothes with their name on it, and to trust their own radar about who is safe.

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#18 of 19 Old 07-28-2013, 05:39 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone!~


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#19 of 19 Old 08-01-2013, 10:04 PM
 
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I am always bothered by the way people think it's okay to touch a baby in ways they wouldn't touch an adult. My husband and I were even bothered by how often our family members kissed our new baby's head when they saw him. We didn't say anything since it was family but it still bothered us a bit since he was so new to the world!
 

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