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7 yo dd climbs all over men

548 Views 3 Replies 3 Participants Last post by  KaraBoo
Dd will be 7 next month.

She has always preferred the company of adults. When we have friends over, she plays with the kids for a little while, but then she tries to engage the adults in conversation or a game. If the adults can't/won't engage, she'll wander off to read until they all leave.

Lately she's been a little more forceful with a couple of dads we know. She'll climb in their laps, but then she doesn't sit still. She'll touch their hair or their face. She hugs relentlessly. She climbs all over one of the dads in our homeschool group. She stands on top of his feet and holds him around the waist while demanding he walk--and he does it. He has two small children of his own to look after, and he'd like to talk to the other parents at least a little, but dd is bent on monopolizing his time. Before we saw him today I reminded her to respect his body and his space. I called her off of him at least five times. Once she was inspecting a pimple on his neck. Eventually we just left. I should have left sooner, but I had two other kids with me...I've got to figure out a way to deal with this.

It drives me wild!!! I've talked to her about respecting people's personal space. I've talked about it in every way I can think of. She says that the people she does this with don't care. I would guess that's true about half the time. The other half of the time it's with people who aren't assertive about their boundaries. The guy at playgroup mainly doesn't care, but I can tell she wears on him.

I cannot stand it when my daughter acts this way. She groped my friend's breast the other day. My friend said matter of factly "you may not touch my breast." Dd didn't do it again. While that is something I'd rather she not do, I can live with it. I cannot stand it when she climbs all over grown men.

Any thoughts on what is going on here?

Any suggestions?
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You may want to clarify what type of discipline you practice. We use time-outs but not the shaming variety. More like the "you need to be by yourself until you can control your actions" variety. It has worked really well for us. Two things I can think of:

1) I often tell my ds, when confronted with the "they don't care" line of reasoning, that it is MY rule for HIM. Other people have different rules but my rule for him is no touching. (I have instigated no touching rules for limited amounts of time until he was able to learn appropriate touching). Since she is quite a bit older than my ds, I would think she would be better able to understand more subtle boundaries about touching rather than just a touching/no touching rule. I have found if I tell ds before we enter a situation that if he does a certain action he knows is against my rule for him, he will have a time out that he rarely does those things.

2) If I were in your situation, I would also be very clear that she may ask then adults a question and play with them if they ask her to, but that she needs to play with the other children or by herself and let the adults talk to each other. I don't know, I know I sound harsh, but my ds has a lot of trouble with social situations. He just isn't social intuitive, he doesn't take hints so I have learned that I have to be VERY clear about what is appropriate and what isn't and then everything is fine. He doesn't get offended. So maybe none of this will work for you, I don't know.

The other half of the time it's with people who aren't assertive about their boundaries
I find it kind of shocking that you expect other people to tell your child that touching their breast isn't okay or that a certain amount of obvious personal space violation isn't okay. Maybe it is just me but I learned quickly as an adult to never parent another person's child and in those situations I fully expect the parent, not me, to address their child about appropriate behavior. If you think about it, it has broad repercussions. Do you want another adult to tell your child that touching their breast or genitals IS okay? I want my children to have clear boundaries about touching or being touched by anyone and they are only going to get clear boundaries when ONE person is telling them and the boundaries are always the same. (again, this may not be your situation, but I have encountered that same type of phrase more than a few times on MDC and it really worries me so I apologize if I am reading more into it than is there)

I have encountered people who, when I have told ds he needs to give that person space, said that they don't mind. In that case, I do let him do whatever he was doing. But I let that person make the decision rather than loose my child on them and expect them to say no. For many people, including myself, social situations are awkward and it is much easier to say yes or say nothing if you don't want to say yes than say no. I have a friend whose dd is very dramatic and emotional and I always let her mother parent her, even though we are constantly together, because I am afraid I will come off as too harsh to her and hurt her feelings when I just want a boundary.
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Yeah, in my post I should have been more clear about who asserts the boundaries.

I'm talking about when dd is obviously invading someone's space, but they protest when I tell her to back-off. It seems like some people hate to see kids disciplined. Not only is it irritating when someone undermines my discipline, but it makes it that much harder to get the point across to dd. She struggles with social situations because she takes people at face value.

And you're right, I shouldn't rely on my friend to defend her breasts. It's not fair to my friend, and it's not fair to dd. I've talked to dd over and over and over again about touching--touching someone's breast is never ok, and I should be able to trust her not to do it. I'm truly perplexed by this behaviour.

It's unrealistic for me to supervise dd to the point where she doesn't have the opportunity to touch inappropriately. When the groping incident happened, I was putting together a snack for all the kids. We were all in the same room, but my back was turned. I sent her to her room. The deal is she can come out when she's calm and ready to make ammends.

At home, dd gets sent to her room for inappropriate behaviour. I withdraw privleges when greater consequences are warranted. When we're out, I use a form of time-out (sit next to me, hold my hand, let's go sit in the car) or I withdraw privleges or we leave. This has really thrown me because I generally don't have discipline problems with dd. She's cooperative and polite most of the time.

I like the idea of no touching at all. I'm going to use it.

Thanks for taking the time to share your thoughts, Julie. I appreciate your perspective.
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no touching at all? only play with other children? I don't agree with this.

Judging from the title (mentioning men) and the examples you used (using both men and women), you seem to take the most issue with your daughter and other men, am I right? Try not to sexualize your daughter's behaviour, if you can. I know it's difficult, with what we see in the media and experience in our culture as women. Give her outlets for her touching. Find ways for her to get that in her everyday life. Is this a sensory thing? Is she interested in the human body? Follow her interests and help her with that.

At the same time, gently explain that sometimes people try to be polite and say it's okay when they really don't mean that. It's a shame that we have to tell our children that. It's a shame that we are fearful of being true to our own feelings about boundaries and our own bodies. It would be better if the whole world were honest but that isn't so.

It's interesting to read that when the woman told your dd to not touch her breast again, your daughter complied. That situation didn't bother you as much as your dd being physically close to men. Perhaps you can examine your own feelings about this before talking to your dd about it. You don't want to confuse your issues with hers.

Does she notice when people become uncomfortable? Can she read facial clues?

Lots to think about here. Good luck, mama! ((()))
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