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velochic's Avatar velochic 06:34 PM 12-02-2004
Living in Europe, I have to say that one thing I've noticed is that this "personal space" issue is very, very American. Here, people live on top of each other, kids walk hand-in-hand and kiss each other (sometimes on the lips even), I see kids 8 or 9 years old greeting each other with handshakes... the world is getting smaller and the population bigger. Better get used to human contact in America, too. At least it was an affectionate interaction instead of some kid hitting the baby. Totally overracting, imho. I've never seen such phobia against human interaction like there is in America.

P.S. I'm an American, btw, so I can say these things with impunity.

Dr.Worm's Avatar Dr.Worm 07:10 PM 12-02-2004
I think it was sweet too. I think little kids are sweet when they show love to each other like that.
OwensMa's Avatar OwensMa 08:32 PM 12-02-2004
Quote:
I think it was sweet too. I think little kids are sweet when they show love to each other like that.

Missy's Avatar Missy 09:00 PM 12-02-2004
Germs and, in our case, my son's LIFE aside, did you all even read the following??

Quote:
But the part that really irks me is how rough he was with her (he RAN towards her and she was pushed back into her seat).
That is not ok nor is it cute. Children are sometimes unknowingly rough with a little one, but it is not ok to brush it off with a laugh. Even children must learn that their actions can impact and even hurt those around them. And the littlest ones need to know that mommy's not going to stand around and giggle while they're being knocked around.

Missy
captain optimism's Avatar captain optimism 02:21 AM 12-03-2004
So I see that there have been some passionate responses to the OP, and I hope you won't be offended if I just respond to your initial question and not the succeeding issues folks have raised. The immediate question is very relevant for me, because my son seems to attract older children at the park, who often hug and kiss him. (he is a remarkably sweet looking little guy, I think.) He generally gets scared and cries a little when this happens. I would like him to feel comfortable and less shy with other kids. He is a little one still and he tends to get really excited when he sees other children but then to kind of hang back.

In general the other parents at the playground have been pretty good about telling their children "be gentle with the baby", etc. It's hard though. I don't think it's a sign of bad parenting if a child does this, but it is definitely good parenting to monitor children's behavior and make sure they get information about how other children feel when their space is invaded.

I'm not particularly worried about germs. Now that he's getting bigger, I would like my son to feel more comfortable saying "no!" if he doesn't want to be touched. That's my main concern, to empower him to deal with other kids.
maya44's Avatar maya44 04:39 AM 12-03-2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic
the world is getting smaller and the population bigger. Better get used to human contact in America, too. At least it was an affectionate interaction instead of some kid hitting the baby. Totally overracting, imho. I've never seen such phobia against human interaction like there is in America.

P.S. I'm an American, btw, so I can say these things with impunity.

I hope the world never gets so "small" that people can't respect cultural sensitivities. And I hope that an individual's right to have control over their own body and who touches it is never taken away.
Star's Avatar Star 04:47 AM 12-03-2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic
Living in Europe, I have to say that one thing I've noticed is that this "personal space" issue is very, very American. Here, people live on top of each other, kids walk hand-in-hand and kiss each other (sometimes on the lips even), I see kids 8 or 9 years old greeting each other with handshakes... the world is getting smaller and the population bigger. Better get used to human contact in America, too. At least it was an affectionate interaction instead of some kid hitting the baby. Totally overracting, imho. I've never seen such phobia against human interaction like there is in America.

P.S. I'm an American, btw, so I can say these things with impunity.
I'm not American.
velochic's Avatar velochic 06:08 AM 12-03-2004
Well, I'll clarify a little bit before I get blasted again. The population is growing and "personal space" is getting smaller, we just don't see it as much in the US because it's such a huge country. The way we react to people "invading" our personal space is learned from infanthood. Kids naturally make new friends in minutes and are hugging and kissing on each other, which, to me seems so wonderfully sweet and uninhibited. As adults, we avert our eyes, avoid any contact with strangers and if we do, we feel that it's an invasion - and we naturally project this on to our kids. For example, over here, if you are a couple sitting at a table for 4 in a restaurant, they'll sit another couple at your table. In the US, this would never happen because it's an invasion of personal space. But kids in every country don't have hang-ups about this "space" issue and they are just showing their feelings. I would like to think that at least for a few years kids can just show affection without social repercussions, no matter where they live. Yes, it's important to be gentle, especially with infants, but I just think that it's good to let kids be kids, including letting them be affectionate toward one another.

My observation is that I see that they are much more laid-back about human contact as adults here than at home, likely because parents don't put limits on their kids' interactions such as what the OP wrote about. I'm not talking about purposely touching another adult (i.e. control over who touches your body,as maya mentioned), I'm talking about general "personal space" - crowded trains and buses and restaurants and stores. Anyway, as I am entitled to my opinion, I still think that it's over-reacting if one gets so upset when a strange child comes up to your child and shows affection. For me, it's just another example of the innocent, uninhibited actions that we eventually outgrow... a pure sweetness that's in all of us before we grow up, become jaded and put limits on our personal space.

It's just my opinion based on my observations. I don't expect people to agree with my opinion, of course. That's fine. I'm just stating it.
dharmamama's Avatar dharmamama 11:22 AM 12-03-2004
I know that lots of people have expressed personal space concerns, and I understand them even if I don't share them. But to me, the main issue of this discussion is, how do you handle it when people behave in ways you'd rather they didn't?

My personal opinion is that living in this world requires give and take, and if you get up in arms every time someone does something you don't like, you're going to be up in arms most of the time. The kid kissed your daughter and was a little rough. Ok, but it's over now, and it probably would have been a lot easier to just acknowledge that it wasn't something you liked, shrug it off, and move on.

Also, I'm a little bit horrified by how judgemental everyone is being of this other mom, who explained that her kid always kisses people. People here assume that this mother has never ever talked to her kid about it and just lets him run wild doing whatever he wants. No one here knows whether that's the case. Maybe she is working with him every day on personal space issues and he's just not getting it. She doesn't owe that explanation to anyone. She's entitled to handle the situation publicly as she sees fit, and I think it's a shame that so many people are willing to jump in and assume the worst about her.

From the Buddhist perspective, the situation is exactly the same whether she and her son are working on personal space issue or not. You can choose to see the situation as what it was, a brief happening in your daughter's life, or you can make it into a a major issue that haunts you for a long time. I believe that it's better for our mental health to take the bad with the good and just ackowledge that living with other people means you can't always control what happens. I see so many people, bit at AMDC and IRL, trying to control other people, and it just creates more heartache and frustration for them. Flexibility is a virtue.

Namaste!
Simply Nurtured's Avatar Simply Nurtured 12:06 PM 12-03-2004
I can look at all sides nowadays...

But 20 years ago, I was a very naive new mama. Yes, I read as much as I could, did the CB classes, did unmedicated birth, did breastfeeding, etc. But I was still REALLY GREEN.

My baby was born at the end of November, and we had received gifts from people related to my husband's work. We were young and struggling. (The good 'ol days, you know...) So when there was this holiday get-together, and we were invited and so was the baby, we went. And although the baby was in a quiet bedroom in the house where the party was, everyone kept going in to see him. And yes, touch, hug and kiss him...

Sooooooooo, at only 3 weeks old, this poor child had a bad COLD!!!
He had to sleep upright, usually on me, sometimes in the kangarockaroo, because he was all stuffed up.

So it should be no surprise to you, that when we had a second child 4 years later, NOBODY WAS ALLOWED NEAR HIM. And do you know what? This child did not catch his first cold until he was almost 2 years old. The main way I avoided people touching, etc. was to keep him cover with something. In a stoller, I draped the netting or a sheer blankie. In the carrier, I kept him close and covered most of his head with a soft flannel blankie or dipe. And then I pretty much did the same with baby 3, born 6 years ago and he was over 2 before he had a cold, and he has only had 3 colds.

Still, there were times when someone wanted to see the baby, sometimes it was an adult, sometimes it was a child. I would smile my sweetest smile and move away.

Realize that I am one of the world's most affectionate people, I am a hugger. My kids are all huggers. And oh, yeah, they tried to hug babies when they were 3,4, 5 years old. My last one would always try to "pet" babies on the head. Now he doesn't go near them, and acts "shy". New phase.

I am also a believer in old-fashioned handwashing.

So I have seen it from both sides.

You asked "what would you do?" We are all different people, unique individuals, not cookie cut-outs, so we all react differently. If it happened to me, I would have just smiled, said nothing, and go scrub the baby.

You did what you thought was right at the time.
Mamm2's Avatar Mamm2 12:25 PM 12-03-2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by velochic
Living in Europe, I have to say that one thing I've noticed is that this "personal space" issue is very, very American. Here, people live on top of each other, kids walk hand-in-hand and kiss each other (sometimes on the lips even), I see kids 8 or 9 years old greeting each other with handshakes... the world is getting smaller and the population bigger. Better get used to human contact in America, too. At least it was an affectionate interaction instead of some kid hitting the baby. Totally overracting, imho. I've never seen such phobia against human interaction like there is in America.

P.S. I'm an American, btw, so I can say these things with impunity.

I totally agree. I am Hispanic, and boy are we a touchy feely group of people. Sometimes I feel uncomfortable because I was born here, but I understand that in their culture this is normal.

My point? I do think that personal space is an American issue. I know that was not a factor in the OP's situation, but just pointing it out.


I guess if this would have happened in another country, this thread would have never been started.
Sofiamomma's Avatar Sofiamomma 04:26 PM 12-03-2004
Wow! This thread *is* all over the map. I am really amazed at all the different passionate answers. I don't know how I missed this for so many days.

To the OP: to answer your original question- if you truly have OCD and were not joking about it then it is difficult to say. You have an unique situation and probably need professional help in handling it. I would guess that carrying wipes is probably helpful, as you mentioned. Also, as has been suggested, keeping your child up out of others' reach. There is no way that you can change others' behavior, in spite of the ranting and raving in this thread, so *you* must adapt. You can only control how you respond and wiping your dd's head and hands is a way to keep her from getting whatever germs the other child may have transmitted. You should know, though, that there are studies that show that too much antimicrobial stuff actually increases the number of resistant bugs and your chances of contracting something truly dangerous, not just a cold.

If you do not have a true personality disorder then maybe you just need to relax a little about germs, realizing, as others have mentioned, that some exposure helps strengthen the immune system. There are several herbal and dietary supplements that will also help, along with plenty of rest, hydration, handwashing, a positive attitude, laughter, spirituality, etc. Unless you homeschool and avoid gatherings of other people of any kind, your child will eventually be exposed to germs and have her fair share of colds, etc.
As far as what I would do, I would not have reacted that way. I would have smiled rather than frowned at the other mother. I might have struck up a conversation with her. Perhaps there would have been an opportunity to tell her something about my child's unique situation if that were the case. She does react anaphylactically to cashews, but it is such a slim possibility that someone will kiss her after eating them, that I choose not to let worry and stress about take a toll on myself or her. Worry and upset can be just as damaging, if not moreso, than colds or allergy symptoms. So far, I have just made a general announcement at parties where there are likely to be nuts.

Just last night we were at older dd's Christmas program. My 20 month old was, of course, not going to sit quietly through the whole thing. She wandered up the aisle and was interacting with the children sitting in front of us. One of them offered a graham cracker. I cringed just a little, but thought better of it. I felt that generosity, sharing, good feelings, etc. were better preserved. If I had intercepted I would surely created bad feelings, and not necessarily prevented anything bad as far as dd's physical health. As far as personal space goes I did a little experiment to see what they would do if she invaded theirs. To my amusement the one little boy, probably about 8, just lifted her up under arms and deposited her back out into the aisle when she crept too far into their seating area.
She also received hugs and kisses from another toddler. That child's mother also laughed and said "She wants to hug and kiss everybody." I laughed, too, and we chatted a few minutes about our dd's and their different personality traits. I think if the other child had been older, bigger, rougher, etc. I might have squatted down next to dd and helped her deal with the situation. I think that while our children definitely have hard wired personality traits, they also gauge their responses by our own. When they fall, if we do not get overly upset and rush to them, we may see them pick themselves up and keep going. If they get a rough hug that surprises them and they whimper a little (or even shriek!) and look to us to see how we respond, we can say "It's okay. Did that surprise you? He is very happy to see you! Do you want to hug him back? Or would you rather shake hands? Or maybe Mama can hold you while you talk with him." You could also speak to the child and ask him to blow her a kiss (LOVE that idea!) or to just touch her feet. I realize that in your case he ran off quickly, but you could still respond to whatever your daughter was doing. And in response to his mama you could have told her whatever pertinent information is appropriate. Like she has a weak immune system, or you hope her child is healthy, or whatever.

Really, though, I think your best bet, barring tempering your own response to the germ issue, is to keep her out of the line of fire. Keep her out of WalMart altogether or keep her up out of the way in a cart or sling.
captain optimism's Avatar captain optimism 04:47 PM 12-03-2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by Sofiamomma
I think that while our children definitely have hard wired personality traits, they also gauge their responses by our own. When they fall, if we do not get overly upset and rush to them, we may see them pick themselves up and keep going. If they get a rough hug that surprises them and they whimper a little (or even shriek!) and look to us to see how we respond, we can say "It's okay. Did that surprise you? He is very happy to see you! Do you want to hug him back? Or would you rather shake hands? Or maybe Mama can hold you while you talk with him." You could also speak to the child and ask him to blow her a kiss (LOVE that idea!) or to just touch her feet. I realize that in your case he ran off quickly, but you could still respond to whatever your daughter was doing. And in response to his mama you could have told her whatever pertinent information is appropriate. Like she has a weak immune system, or you hope her child is healthy, or whatever.
I don't know how helpful this was to the OP, but I found it very helpful for me in my situation. It's about what my approach was, but I like the particular way you frame what to say to your dc. I feel a lot more comfortable than the OP did talking to another parent about what their child is doing, most of the time. I have always felt okay about talking to children, I think I'm pretty respectful, though I work on that too. But I really struggle with a way to validate my child's feelings without also somehow saying that he should be afraid of other children.

It's a tricky balance.

I did find this a good thread for understanding other parents' perspectives on this issue.
sunnmama's Avatar sunnmama 05:22 PM 12-03-2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by dharmamama
But to me, the main issue of this discussion is, how do you handle it when people behave in ways you'd rather they didn't?
That is interesting, and helps me to understand the other pov better. From my perspective, the main issue of this discussion was, should children be taught (gently, of course) to respect the bodies of others...including affectionate behaviors.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dharmamama
Also, I'm a little bit horrified by how judgemental everyone is being of this other mom, who explained that her kid always kisses people. People here assume that this mother has never ever talked to her kid about it and just lets him run wild doing whatever he wants. No one here knows whether that's the case. Maybe she is working with him every day on personal space issues and he's just not getting it. She doesn't owe that explanation to anyone. She's entitled to handle the situation publicly as she sees fit, and I think it's a shame that so many people are willing to jump in and assume the worst about her.
I never thought this at all. Your are right: we have no idea about how this mama is handling the issue, or even what the child's true age is! But I am so surprised that that so many mamas here on MDC see this as a positive behavior (grabbing another child in a hug). Many mamas here have made it *clear* that they think this behavior is sweet, and would do nothing to discourage it. I am reading it, and believing it, but not really understanding it

More on my perspective: my dd has SID, with tactile defensiveness. Unexpected touch can be received by her nervous system as an assault--and she goes into fight or flight response. *I've* been smacked for kissing her too suddenly. So that explains a lot about my pov, I guess. But I didn't include that info on this thread before, because I don't think it should really matter that she has a disorder. All that should matter is that she does not want to be touched. That *should be* her choice. I just think that should be taught at a young age, but it seems that many don't share my opinion
Ceinwen's Avatar Ceinwen 06:00 PM 12-03-2004
I just wanted to add my $0.02 - I have no problem with another child hugging and kissing my dd. I think it's sweet.

Buuuttttt.... if they are rough, and she's scared I will ask them to give gentler hugs and touches. And - a snotty nose is a deal breaker. If some kid leaking mucous all over the place is hugging my dd, I wanna say (but don't!) hands off!

I just don't want my child exposed to more viruses than absolutely necessary.
merpk's Avatar merpk 05:27 AM 12-05-2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by lilgsmommy
I personally would not be ok with it just because of DS life threating food allergies. Before I used to think nothing of it, but now I am very cautious as to who touches and hugs and kisses DS when we go out places.




We have an adult friend with nut allergies who was in the hospital for days as a toddler, because another child ... a stranger to her family ... with peanut butter smeared on his face ran up to her on the street and gave her a bear hug.

Sounds cute. But it doesn't always work out that way.













Anyway, agreeing with posters who pointed out that in a toddler it might be cute, but at 4 or 5 maybe children should be learning boundaries. But then again, since we've been working on our own DS#1's quite real boundary issues, perhaps I'm a little less tolerant than I might be otherwise.
bec's Avatar bec 01:19 PM 12-05-2004
Wow, Star, what a can of worms you opened up!

This is how I have handled unwanted affection of my babies (for everyone jumping down Star's throat over her "reaction", keep in mind her baby is right around a year old, so hardly able to defend himself). I try to be very aware of my environment. This is just general good safety, but it also lets me see affectionate kids ahead of time. If a child approaches my baby, I usually step in front of the stroller and place myself bodily between the oncoming exuberant child and my baby. I usually squat down on their level and smile and say, "Please don't kiss the baby, but you can wave to her and say hello." If need be, I'll put an arm out to prevent the child from getting at my baby.

I am gentle and friendly, but protective of my baby. It is my job to protect her space right now, and my job to be the intermediary for all contact with her. If someone wants to get at my baby, they have to come through me. This does not mean I have to be unpleasant, or rude, or stifling to a child's affection. It does mean that I won't let anyone (child or adult) overwhelm my baby while she is strapped into a stroller, defenseless (she's not because she has me). If they ask, I will usually let them stroke her hand, hand her a toy, or something. If they seem ill or too energetic I will smile and gently say, "Maybe another time."

It is sweet when children show affection for babies and other children. No one is saying otherwise. But children need to be shown (gently) how to appropriately express that affection.

As far as this being an American thing. Whatever. I live in America, and play by American rules. It doesn't make sense for me to play by European, Brazilian, or Chinese rules, because that is not the culture I am living in. It's a non-sequitor, as far as I'm concerned.



Bec
starlite's Avatar starlite 01:24 AM 12-10-2004
Quote:
Originally Posted by littleaugustbaby
Oh, come on. I think everyone here understands the need to respect personal space. But for freak's sake, we're talking about a little kid here! You and I are adults. We understand that you don't just walk up to everyone you see and give them hugs and kisses. A small child doesn't. Why are we trying to place adult expectations on small children? Doesn't that go against AP?

The OP's feelings are her feelings, and she has a right to feel them. But I really just don't think it's such a big deal. My DD just learned how to give hugs and kisses within the last few months, and when we go out, she likes to give kisses and hugs to other little kids. When we go to the playground, a lot of the bigger kids also like to touch her or give her hugs. It doesn't freak me out, it's just kids doing what kids do. We live in a world where so many kids are abused, there's so much violence and anger and hostility, so why are we lashing out against kids showing affection for each other?

And honestly, it's pretty hard to avoid germs. If you're really that worried about it, it's probably better that you not go out at all.

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