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#1 of 14 Old 11-14-2010, 12:23 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I almost put this under special needs parenting as maybe a sensory issue, but that’s probably exaggerating. But it doesnt’t feel “generic” enough to me for childhood years...so I am crossposting in Gentle Discipline because I want this to STOP! And in Parenting the Gifted Child, because it’s the place where people recommended “The Active Alert Child”, the first book I came across that resonated with me about this issue, so maybe there are more people who have experienced this.  

 

Before I begin: I have very low needs for personal space myself, particularly with my children. I can cuddle and hug and kiss all day, and I genuinely do not mind sleeping with a little body pressed next to me, in fact it relaxes me.

 

DS however has ways of invading my boundaries that are driving me crazy, and it’s been going on for years, sometimes better, sometimes worse. He seems obsessed with my hair, so whenever he gets near it he appears almost to be compelled to stroke, grab, twist, pull, yank...it always escalates. I cannot help him with  shoes or dress without his grabbing some strands, or leaning on my head or pressing a kiss on top of it. Bedtimes are worst because cuddling, for him, means touching my hair. When he’s in a good place it’s just stroking and going to sleep holding it. Worse means twisting, mouthing, chewing, biting down and pulling...(he does this with toothbrush bristles as well, and with the whiskers of his stuffed tiger - I hear they have machines at this toy factory simulating pulling forces to make sure no kids could ever pull out those whiskers, but he managed) or grinding his head against mine .When he was stressed at my going back to work full time two years ago, we had real fights at bedtimes and I had to hold him with my arms locked around him to get him to go to sleep – threatening to leave the room (and send in DH, of course) just seemed to make matters worse. Having my hair yanked or having pressure put on top of my head does not just hurt my scalp, it can hurt my neck badly beause I have had spine surgery, and he has sent me into headaches and backaches bad enough to warrant a PT appointment more than once. Which makes me tense up when he moves in certain way to cuddle which makes matters worse, I am sure. These days I feel he is old enough to deal with my threatening to leave the room and follow up after ample warnings, and things did get better at night, but I wish I were able to buckle him in without having my hair batted at.

 

He’s started a new one now, and it drives me so crazy I had to leave the room tonight again – which upsets me because I treasure that half-hour or so of connection with the baby asleep. I tell him he has to whisper so as not to wake up the baby (we were going to put her to sleep somewhere else but he wanted her to go to sleep with him, and we happily complied) so he moves closer and closer into my face until his lips touch the tip of my nose. Then he starts mouthing it. When I tell him to stop he starts pressing kisses on it. It may sound cute but it’s actually annoying as heck. I felt bad for leaving, but staying and hissing at him to stop every other minute is no good option either, and it usually ends up waking the baby...

 

Oh, and I’ve recently seen him give little hugs or “drive-by” strokings to kids he likes, or pressing a quick kiss onto their bodies somewhere, which is new. It hasn’t gotten him into trouble yet as most preschoolers seem to be pretty oblivious to this but I expect it will.

 

I can’t deal with this blurring of affection and aggression. Help!!! !


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#2 of 14 Old 11-14-2010, 01:03 PM
 
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Hmmm.  Have to admit I'm grinning.

 

Have you talked to him about it outside of the moment?

 

At 4 with DS I would have said something about we all have sensory needs (what are things we each like and each don't like).  What does it feel like in each of your bodies when things you do like/don't like happen.  That I can see he really likes these things (name a few other things you're not tackling), and does not like these others.  That he really likes hair stroking and nose sucking.  That you don't like it, that it makes you feel uncomfortable - use some of the terms/descriptions you both used before.  Tell him that you understand he likes it, but we need to brainstorm some alternatives so that he gets his needs met without making you uncomfortable.  Be clear in your language that it's normal for people to like/dislike different sensations and that it's not a value judgement.  Then find him something he can stroke and mouth in bed as a substitute.  I would also try to find him some other socially appropriate methods to meet these needs at other times of the day so his need may not be as strong in the evening and he may stop doing it with peers.

 

This book is about to be released and I think might have some good language to use:

http://books.google.com/books?id=xdJf7F2NpSUC&printsec=frontcover&dq=sensory+processing+workbook&hl=en&ei=IU7gTJLKNYaesQOh5-juCg&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CDcQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q&f=false

 


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#3 of 14 Old 11-14-2010, 01:06 PM
 
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Ugh - couldn't get edit to work.

 

I don't think it's aggression - I think it's a need that he needs to have more appropriate strategies to meet.


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#4 of 14 Old 11-15-2010, 02:43 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joensally View Post

Hmmm.  Have to admit I'm grinning.

 

Have you talked to him about it outside of the moment?

 

 


 

Yeah, I don't blame you for thinking it sounds funny eyesroll.gif. I don't understand why it's buggging me quite so much either - maybe you have to have someone try it on your nose. Maybe I'm just a little more stressed than I realize, because I'm constantly (mentally!) comparing the experience with the new baby to the experience with DS and thinking "this is so easy! I couldn't be complaining, it could be so much worse!"

 

Thank you for the wording suggestions. I did talk to him this morning about kissing when people don't want to be kissed, and how I always stop when he does not like to be kissed hinself, and he needs to stop with others, too. We also introduced the concept of staying at arm's length from other people's faces when talking to them some time ago. He seems to think kids are more likely to answer his questions if he puts his face right into theirs and turns up the volume. He hasn't quite grasped that some just don't follow. He can remember these things and implement them when he's in a good place. The other stuff appears compulsory, like I wrote. makes sense that it is about a need which is somehow unmet. He really likes having his back rubbed before going to sleep, I'll have to try to do more of that- after 30 to 40 minutes non-stop nursing it's just exhausting. I guess I'll have to suck it up in order not to get sucked on, ha.

We also do chewy and crunchy food and sucking through straws already. Recently his mouthing phase was so bad I was close to throwing the baby's pacis at him, she won't take them anyway. However it did seem to be a phase and is so much better during the day. Just bedtimes remaining now.


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#5 of 14 Old 11-15-2010, 02:52 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Weird. Now editing doesn't work for me either. I was going to add that I tell him to pull on his tiger's fur (see whiskers, pulling out of) but he gets very upset because he feels he is not allowed to cuddle with me at all. I perfectly understand that he wants to cuddle, be close and touch me - it's the escalating into grinding, chewing and yanking that's the problem. He literally does not seem to be able to stop himself once he gets close to my hair. THen I tell him to stay away altogether, which understandably makes him upset. I'll try offering the back rubs first thintg, amybe we won't even get to hair being involved. i#d love to just hold him and drowsily whisper cute stuff in my ear, but I suppose it's not to be...  


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#6 of 14 Old 11-15-2010, 04:05 AM
 
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How about getting him a doll--the kind with human-like hair?

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#7 of 14 Old 11-15-2010, 03:50 PM
 
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Oh, Tigerle, I wasn't laughing as much as empathizing.  I have a very attached boy who used to use me a lot to self-regulate.  It's challenging.

 

I would try to satisfy his need away from bedtime.  Do you know anyone who sews?  I wonder if a multi-sensory, textured lovey to stroke while he's reading or having quiet time might help.  Give him fidgets in the car, those sorts of thing.  He's sensory seeking so it may help to fill his sensory bucket at other times so he's not so "thirsty" once he gets you alone.  Weren't previous posts indicating he was really wound up at bedtime?  How's that going?  I wonder if he'd like a swing.  IKEA has a very inexpensive bolt for the ceiling and then you just need yards of strong, stretchy fabric.  What we learned with DS is that some things that calm him in moderation totally rev him up if he gets too much, so it's finding that balance.


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#8 of 14 Old 11-15-2010, 10:14 PM
 
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Ah, I remember those days. I agree that he isn't being agressive, he is seeking sensory imput.  You can find a lot of good info under Sensory Intigration Disorder to just get some good ideas.

 

My oldest is also a sensory seeker.  He is 10 and I still tell him to take Legos out of his mouth.  It didn't work for us to have give choice A or B (as in, if you keep petting me, I will leave.)  It didn't work.  Instead, he needed an outlet, so he could continue cuddling with me and chew things.  He had/s toys that are for chewing. He used pacifiers to chew on until he was 6 or 7 (he never did suck on one, but he nursed until he was almost 3).  He has toys he likes to pet and stroke.  So when he starts wanting to pet and I need a break, I ask him to get his toy and come back. 

 

I have a friend who is a spec. ed teacher. She suggested writing social stories, and I have found them to be helpful.  It is a simple story that talks about a behavior that you want changed and what is the correct behavior.  There are websites with some already written for you, for examples. http://www.thegraycenter.org/social-stories/what-are-social-stories  You can get as creative as you have time and energy for :lol!  I have used them for all my kids. I use them to tell about a trip we are going to be taking, visiting a new person, weaning, new house, starting a new school, etc.  Most of the time I just tell them the story a few times, but sometimes they need the extra reinforcement of pictures and lots of repetition.


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#9 of 14 Old 11-16-2010, 03:15 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by joensally View Post

Oh, Tigerle, I wasn't laughing as much as empathizing.  I have a very attached boy who used to use me a lot to self-regulate.  It's challenging.

 

I keep having to think of the Gary Larson cartoon of the man having a snake hanging off his nose, know which one I mean? I'm kinda thrown by the absurdity of our problem. It is helpful understanding the underlying reasons somewhat better.

 

I think I feel it as aggression because he seems to rev it up on purpose as I try to curb it, even do stuff like when I tell him to stop touching my hair he'll start blowing on it, as if needing to make a point. It actually makes sense if I imagine that being stopped must feel to him like I'm taking away something he needs, like food being taken away under his nose although he's hungry.

 

Quote:
 

My oldest is also a sensory seeker.  He is 10 and I still tell him to take Legos out of his mouth.  It didn't work for us to have give choice A or B (as in, if you keep petting me, I will leave.)  It didn't work.  Instead, he needed an outlet, so he could continue cuddling with me and chew things.  He had/s toys that are for chewing. He used pacifiers to chew on until he was 6 or 7 (he never did suck on one, but he nursed until he was almost 3).  He has toys he likes to pet and stroke.  So when he starts wanting to pet and I need a break, I ask him to get his toy and come back. 

 

  

 

I've got the two SPD bibles, but have found it hard to find socially appropriate chewing activities. I was so glad to get rid of the paci when he was two (gave it up by himself without problems, actually) and unless desperate, cannot envisage going back. we also felt that he ought to give up having his milk in a bottle before turning four, though I regretted having to do that since it did seem to calm him. Nor can I tolerate him chewing up his clothes (this is not going on at the moment, he's really much better. I know in theory, having read the books, that one should not be confused about it's being SPD even if it's sometimes on and sometimes off, but it's still confusing!). He's been somewhat underweight for a while, so we could do more food between meal and snacktimes - I just don't like building up this habit, he may not be underweight forever. I hate gum, don't want it ever in the house if I can help it. and I thought having a no-tolerance policy about putting toys in his mouth as in nothing-but-food-and-drink-in-the-mouth-ever might be safest, I'm kinda freakish about choking. Sheesh, I hear you about the outlet, what chance does this child of mine have to get his chewing needs met? I have let him chew up the disposable straws after he's had a drink, because it belongs in the "drink" category and thus does not interfere with our house rule, and if he falls or bumps into something it will bend and cannot hurt his mouth...so I will offer it to him during the day... and maybe a plastic spoon when engaged in some sedentary activity...though when he is intellectually engaged those needs tend to be forgotten anyway. 

 

Quote:
 

I would try to satisfy his need away from bedtime.  Do you know anyone who sews?  I wonder if a multi-sensory, textured lovey to stroke while he's reading or having quiet time might help.  Give him fidgets in the car, those sorts of thing.  He's sensory seeking so it may help to fill his sensory bucket at other times so he's not so "thirsty" once he gets you alone.  Weren't previous posts indicating he was really wound up at bedtime?  How's that going?  I wonder if he'd like a swing.  IKEA has a very inexpensive bolt for the ceiling and then you just need yards of strong, stretchy fabric.  What we learned with DS is that some things that calm him in moderation totally rev him up if he gets too much, so it's finding that balance.

 

Being wound up badly at bedtime continues to be a problem. Yesterday FIL put him to bed as we were out and he expressed surprise at DS having to chatchatchat and fidget forever (happily DD is tolerating it much better now, apparently she woke up and just fidgeted for a while and went back to sleep, without needing me). Apparently he is much more together when he gets to sleep over at their house, probably because it is rare and special. It seems counterintuitive but it seems to me it's got to do with really getting something out of preschool this year. he's learning to play and making friends, and at just four, the learning activities in his 3-6 classroom are right at his level. I think he's taking it all in and at night it comes out, kwim?

 

We have an open attic with beams - no need for hooks! I'll put up the hammock and try it out. And I've ordered nordic naturals CLO from a somewhat fishy internet source which appears to be the only national retailer, hope it's going to arrive soon, it's been some time. Apparently it's got a calming effect when taken at bedtime. I have high hopes !

 

edted to add that I don't think that replacing cuddling with me with a new lovey or a human hair doll will work, or work better than trying to redirect him to cuddling his tiger. he's told me he wawants to cuddle with me, and cuddlling for him means touching my hair. Any solution here I might not be seeing?


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#10 of 14 Old 11-16-2010, 09:55 AM
 
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I would just say No. You can't pet my hair. Here, you can pet your doll's hair.

 

We do use gum, leather necklaces as chewies. And he still chews his clothes when stressed. It isn't a good or bad kid thing. It is just a thing. He is wired differently and has different needs sometimes.  So we just try to direct it into socially acceptable directions.  I grew up chewing my nails, some kids suck their thumbs or twirl their hair. My dh and fil both chew pens.  It is the same thing, only a little more noticable.

 

I know you have rules, we do to. However, you may need to have a family meeting or parental meeting and discuss the rules and if they are appropriate or not or how you could make some adjustments.  For us, we allowed our kids to chew gum.  They have all chewed gum from about 18 months on.  They all figured out how to keep it in their mouths without swallowing or pulling it out with their fingers very quickly. They have all tried to drop it or put it somewhere to save it and learned that that is a bad plan.  But in 9 years of kids chewing, we have only had 2 instances of gum in clothing or hair. So perhaps you can figure out some places that you are willing to compromise.   And maybe not, but it is good to think about now and again and see if your feelings have changed.  No one is going to judge you here.


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#11 of 14 Old 11-16-2010, 11:27 AM
 
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What about chewelry to give him while he snuggles with you? So not as a snuggle substitute, but something to do with his hands/mouth while he snuggles with you?

 

Examples: http://www.chewelry.ca/about.html

http://www.nationalautismresources.com/chewelry.html

 

You could also give him a koosh ball or a tangle or something else to do with his hands. The key, I think, is to keep his body right next to yours and give his hands/mouth something to do. (I'd also put my hand over my nose the instant he started to kiss it -- that would drive me batty!)


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#12 of 14 Old 11-16-2010, 11:31 AM
 
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The safest "chewy" would be something textile. I would suggest having some kind of cloth, similar in consistancy to the clothes he's chewed up in the past, that is specifically for chewing. Knit is often the preferred texture.

 

My suggestion would be to talk to him outside of bedtime and very firmly state your limit. I don't like the way that feels. When people tell you stop touching, that's it. If you can't listen to that boundary I will take it as time for me to leave the room. I think if you are very clear and very firm, it will stop. Really it is not doing him any favors to allow it. It just makes you resent him and it teaches him bad habits about respecting the needs of other people. My other thought if this is going on regularly is that you may have reached the age where it is not best for him to have a long wind down with other people before bed. Many families switch over to more reading time around this age and shift away from the long period of snuggling wind down because they find it just revs up kids more.

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#13 of 14 Old 11-16-2010, 02:15 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you so much everyone! I need to go to bed myself but wanted to let y'all know that tonight was much better. I happened to change his sheets today and remembered I had terry cloth sheets for his bed so I put those on for extra sensory input, and he really liked the texture. I have to find terry cloth duvet covers! I also offered the backrub first thing and he calmed down quickly with it, even asking me to stop before I had to give up - it's hard to give backrubs lying down yourself! He did want to chat and kiss for a little while afterwards but I lay down on my back, not turning my face towards him, telling him I could listen better this way, so it was my right cheek that got all the affection. I can take anything on the cheek, lol. I encouraged him to cuddle his tiger, but when he reached over to stroke my hair for a while I let him because I could tell he was calm. When he started twisting it round his fingers, I gently removed his hand and he let go immediately, coming back for stroking. He fell asleep quickly.

 

Roar, DH reads with him for a long time these days on the big-boy bed in DS' room, leaning against a beanbag for sensory input while I nurse the baby down in our bedroom (actually the baby has entered a new phase yesterday and only needs minutes to fall asleep herself now, so I got to pick up the house while they read before tucking DS in, which calmed me down, too.) DH will stop reading (or rather discussing the latest nonfiction book about wires or household technology or power plants or whatever) and send DS in with me as soon as DS appears to be close to dropping off, but he sometimes seems to rev up again for cuddling with me in the sidecarred crib in our bedroom and won't stop chatting. I used to both read and cuddle after lights out inour room, which works better I think and if the baby continues to fall asleep so easily, we can go back to that - I hope DH will let me! I also try to steer him towards more fiction that he can just listen too as opposed to dicussin nonfiction, but it's hard, he's all about technology these days.  Cuddling to fall asleep really shouldn't take this long, I agree with you. I think how long it takes has to do with just how much mama time he's had during the day, too. It may also be a problem that our bedtime routines keep evolving these days, first trying to meet my needs in late pregnancy and now trying to meet the needs of the baby as she's growing, too. And I do feel they ought to gradually evolve into his sleeping in his room, and maybe he is picking up on that too and is worried about it...

 

The social story idea is interesting. I need to read more about it to understand how we could work his issues into one. I think it already helps to remember that I shouldn't ignore his issues when they are not apparent, hoping it's all over, but keep working on them in settings removed from bedtime, whether it's in the form of a story or a family meeting or just reiterating my limits, like Roar suggested. I am apt to just roll with things when he's good, but those are teaching times.

 

however, I am not ready to introduce gum chewing in the house. I'm just not. The chewelry looks great, and a leather necklace sounds good, too. Not sure he really likes chewing on fabric, it's just that t-shirts were available this simmer when he was at his worst. He's actually got a great fidget toy for the car which used to be mine sort of like a solid plastic chain made up of 8 links you can form into shapes. But I'll hold out on gum as long as I can.


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#14 of 14 Old 11-27-2010, 07:52 PM
 
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Thought I'd throw it out that my four-year-old (and now five-year-old) with high chewing needs really likes her Ps and Qs http://www.nationalautismresources.com/psqs.html that our friend who's a therapist recommended. I find them extremely loathsome to bite, myself, but both dd5 and ds3 really like them. It's slowed the nail-biting down a good bit, and the destruction of the sweatshirt sleeves is decreasing. The nose-picking is unaffected, alas. >_<


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