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Discussion Starter · #1 ·
My 19 month old is a social child. He *needs* a few minutes to warm up to people though, especially in a large group setting. He will actively seek people out to engage them *if* they don't get up in his face the second they arrive.<br><br>
Yesterday, we did two Thanksgivings, my family's side and my husbands. With both families, but especially my husband's side, people just had no respect for boundaries or personal space with our son. I am assuming this is because he is a child and many people just don't afford children any respect. I get that they're excited to see him, but here are some examples of what happened:<br><br>
MIL tries to pick him up out of my arms. He starts crying and clinging to me like a little monkey. MIL keeps trying. I say gently with a warm smile on my face "I think he needs a few minutes to warm up." MIL storms off in a huff (MIL is a major control freak for the record as well). Five minutes later, MIL comes and starts pretending to steal his snack. He gets upset, starts crying, and tries to hit her. She keeps at it. I say to him "You can just say 'I don't want to share my snack, thank you.'" which he doesn't have the verbal skills to say so I don't know why I said it anyhow. Couple minutes later, SIL comes and tries to give him a hug. He pushes her away, starts crying, tries to hit her. She says "you're going to give me a hug!" and tries some more. My husband steps in and says "I don't think he likes that"...again, warmly, but picking DS up from the situation. MIL at one point tried dragging DS out from under the table by one arm. He was trying to hide under the table to get away from her, again crying. Both MIL and SIL work in the school system with young children. MIL is an occupational therapist and SIL is a teacher. There is no excuse for them "not knowing." Some other family members did similar types of things, mostly uncles or cousins wanting to tickle or toss him in the air. This was less irritating to me because with most of them, I think they *should* be able to read his signals, but am a little more understanding that they don't.<br><br>
Anyhow, the question is...Gently telling/asking them to please stop is not working. They are just choosing to have absolutely no respect for his wishes, and they are ignoring my husband and I for the first couple of comments we make, and then trying similar things minutes later. Short of saying "Get your hands off of him already! Look at him! Does it look like he likes what you're doing?" how can we handle this in a way that gets them to back off a little. We have tried and tried to explain that he actually is friendly and social, if people just don't smother him right from the get go. My parents and sisters never get up in his face and he readily seeks them out 5-10 minutes after their arrival if not sooner. He is actually more friendly with strangers at restaurants! He. needs. a. little. time. people!
 

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I bet your MIL and SIL think that since they work with kids that kids love them and that they know how to get them to interact. A point of professional pride, I'm sure.<br><br>
My nephew was the same way and my mom would say "Oh look how much he likes you! I always make him cry when I try to hold him." Thats when I told her that I actively try not to make eye contact with him for a little while. Ha. I would share my food with him-- handing him pieces while talking to other people, etc. And he responded. My mom finally realized he needed to be in control of our level of interaction. He is 1/3 of our size and is picked up and redirected all the time. He just wanted some agency. But this you know.<br><br>
I would invite MIL over to your house in his surroundings. Tell her as soon as she comes in "Listen, this kid loves you but he wants to be the one to come to you. I bet if you are playing with his trains while we chat, he will be all over you in five minutes. Just lovingly ignore him for a little while!"<br><br>
rinse and repeat with SIL.<br><br>
This way he will not be in a crazy holiday situation, in his own environment, and maybe they will both learn a little more how to deal with each other before the next big event.<br><br>
Good Luck!
 

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we have people like that too. Especially when Tyr was younger and unable to just tell them No. We constantly told people he likes his space and doesn't like people right in his face. Adults and kids alike. When people continued to insist picking him up, hugging him etc...we would actually take him and tell them he needs a break NOW....I would usually bring him to a separate room for down time and some Nummy-nums.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>APToddlerMama</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/14727724"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Anyhow, the question is...Gently telling/asking them to please stop is not working. They are just choosing to have absolutely no respect for his wishes, and they are ignoring my husband and I for the first couple of comments we make, and then trying similar things minutes later. Short of saying <b>"Get your hands off of him already! Look at him! Does it look like he likes what you're doing?"</b> how can we handle this in a way that gets them to back off a little.</div>
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Honestly, I'd say exactly this. If they persisted, I'd probably leave, although I know that has the potential to cause problems between you and your dh, so it's not an ideal solution. If polite isn't working, it's not working. If they were treating an adult like this, they'd probably get punched in the nose, so being told to back off isn't that bad. The part I bolded isn't even particularly rude, imo - it's just very to the point.
 

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If your ds is pre-verbal then it is, IMO, your responsibility to speak for him. If someone tries to take him from you and he objects. Tell them bluntly, "He is telling you no!" If they try to take his snack away from him and he objects, tell them buntly, "you need to stop. He doesn't like that!" Repeat every single time. I would also stick by ds like glue to help him out when he is not being respected.<br><br>
My dd was exactly like your ds and my ILs were exactly like yours. You can't tip toe around these type people. If you are nice but firm and they still decide to sulk then that is thier problem. You are not responsible for thier reaction!
 

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I go the opposite route with annoying people. I've got the same basic attitude of not "coo-ing" at the baby all the. Just keeping him close and letting him watch me. Giving him attention, but not smothering him. You do know that it's almost an alternative way of life, don't you? That, sadly, not everybody in the world knows about it, or understands about it yet. And you said they're mainstream educators too? Doubt the understood your POV.<br><br>
But when someone's making ds uncomfortable I usually turn my babyhip outward so that I'm physically shielding ds away from the offender then I annoy and harrass the offender in the same manner. "I'll take a hug SIL.". "I'ng gonna gitchu MIL Tikal Tikal.". (2 fakey tickles mil's lower rib cage. Retract my hand. Look at ds w/a smile in my eye. Inhale loudly "tikal Tikal ". Get her ribs again. If he's not happy by then I hug him and kiss the top of his head and turn away from whoever. Saying to ds in babyish voice "you don't wanna play? Ok baby we'll go get some juice.". Sometimes he realizes they just wanna play with him and he starts playing back, sometimes he doesn't.
 

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I just wanted to add sometimes I feel like a total nerd walking off talking to the baby like that or spending every entire party completely glued to my son, even watching so close when he's playing with the other kids. Most of the time I think no one minds, they just think I'm acting like a mother of a small child. Some mothers are just so cool. Not me. It's all about the baby for a while. But, yeah. I just turn it around and play with the other person like they're a big baby, hoping that he'll catch on and want to play. Just in case he's taking social cues from me I wanna try to make everyone comfortable with each other. But ds is my responsibility. I wanna show him how to enjoy life as much as possible, so before I try anything I try to act silly and break the tension.
 

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I can totally relate. My ILs were the same way, still are, but DS is 3 and can take it a little better now. My solution was to wear him in a sling for a while when we first arrived. Of course, they did not like that and thought I was being overprotective, but I knew my child and his needs came first. It was harder for them to try to take him from me and sort of gave him a little safe haven to burrow up in if it was too much for him.<br><br>
If I had to, we would just go to the bedroom for milkies until things calmed down like a PP stated.<br><br>
They were fairly good about backing off, but couldn't seem to remember from one visit to the next. I think if they don't get AP then probably nothing you can say will make them be respectful of his space. Some people do not see children as people too. You may have to be very blunt, but maybe let DH do it since it is his family!<br><br>
BTW, my MIL is a control freak, too. We just got home from there, so I can totally commiseurate!
 

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Been there. With DH1 his fam was really like that I got very angry. After getting remarried and DH2s fam was similar, I changed tactics. When DD2 was young, less that 2yo, I would make sure she was in a sling when we walked in the door so they could not physically take her. I would then kind of busy myself with a few things for a few minutes with her still attached....run to bathroom, ooo and ahh over the food spread, walk DD around and show her a few things....I just literally kept moving a bit with her on me so they did really have a chance to jump in.<br><br>
Between 18-24 months she would eventually start to want to get down. Or I would go chat with MIL and SIL with her slung to me. If they made a play to get her, I would really just kind of play it off. I would talk to DD with something like....Oooo, Grandma will be excited to play with you when you are ready to get down! My inlaws are very well meaning people. I didnt want to start a stir. I just kept her attached for a bit while talking to DD about getting down in a bit when she was situated, in front of inlaws. They got the hint very quickly, esp when she started WANTING to get down and go to them. I then tried to make a sort big deal about how much she loved going to them once she got used to things.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>DeChRi</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/14728935"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Been there. With DH1 his fam was really like that I got very angry. After getting remarried and DH2s fam was similar, I changed tactics. When DD2 was young, less that 2yo, I would make sure she was in a sling when we walked in the door so they could not physically take her. I would then kind of busy myself with a few things for a few minutes with her still attached....run to bathroom, ooo and ahh over the food spread, walk DD around and show her a few things....I just literally kept moving a bit with her on me so they did really have a chance to jump in.<br><br>
Between 18-24 months she would eventually start to want to get down. Or I would go chat with MIL and SIL with her slung to me. If they made a play to get her, I would really just kind of play it off. I would talk to DD with something like....Oooo, Grandma will be excited to play with you when you are ready to get down! My inlaws are very well meaning people. I didnt want to start a stir. I just kept her attached for a bit while talking to DD about getting down in a bit when she was situated, in front of inlaws. They got the hint very quickly, esp when she started WANTING to get down and go to them. I then tried to make a sort big deal about how much she loved going to them once she got used to things.</div>
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That is <i>excellent</i> advice!<img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/thumb.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="thumbs up">
 

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Great thread. Hmmm. I need to think about this in a new way.<br><br>
What about when the children are 3 and 6?<br><br>
With babies it's easy to sling them or hold them and "protect" them, but again there are just people who do not respect children's space or that children have rights over their own bodies. And when one of these people is your own mother, then what?<br><br>
Today my mom was grabbing the kids, picking them up and calling them "babies," tickling them, and then at one point grabbing the 6yo and trying to forcefully put his shoes on him. It was so bizarre. She was trying to appear "playful" about it, but she actually said "Let's see who wins this shoe war" in a very over-the-top way and then she actually told my sister to hold his hands down! I stayed nearby in case he needed my help (I knew sis wasn't going to do that). He responded by throwing his shoes behind the chair and taking off his socks, and then running away, but honestly for a minute I thought he was going to kick her! (I'm proud that he didn't, and also proud that he didn't cave!)<br><br>
It was yucky feeling, and I want to come at this from a more empowered place. I told them afterwards that they don't have to allow anyone to grab them, and they can say "I don't like that, let go of me" assertively and without getting mad. Although they are verbal, I don't know if they have that level of skill yet, and anyway lots of adults just don't listen. The 3yo will try saying, "Stop!" but then is likely to hit or spit on someone.<br><br>
She is definitely the worst offender and has been since they were little, there's not much chance of working it out with her since there is very little relationship there and we see her a few times a year still, but other people do similar things. My dad who is very wellmeaning and cares about them and sees them often, one time would not stop pushing my older son on the swing when he was saying, "Stop." It's so frustrating.<br><br>
What is the message you give to your kids? Step in for them? Support them beforehand/afterwards? Allow them to learn on their own from their discomfort?
 

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speaking from the stand point of having a mom that just let me fend for myself, PLEASE SPEAK FOR YOUR CHILDREN!! i would say i couldn't truly speak up or defend myself until about 11. it was traumatizing and scary to have family members basically attack me the entire holiday, i still have issues about seeing family during the holidays. what may seem innocent and playful can really be damaging to a child, things like forcing tickling, forcing a child to be held when they dont want to, etc.<br><br>
i personally just remove dd from overbearing family members and tell them she will be ready in a minute. if they dont understand the first time, the secod warning is more forceful. something like, please respect her space, she is NOT READY TO SEE YOU.<br>
if they still dont get it, i leave.<br>
it only took one holiday to train them. if they get too rough with her and she starts to look like she is getting scared, i take her back. if they refuse to give her back, i get very clear and strong about it. i dont really care if my family gets offended, i wont allow my daughter to have the same experience i did as a child.
 

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That's so true. I can't keep him on my hip forever. You've pointed the way to a healthy path through this- how to be respectfully assertive.
 

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<div>Originally Posted by <strong>webjefita</strong> <a href="/community/forum/post/14729174"><img alt="View Post" class="inlineimg" src="/community/img/forum/go_quote.gif" style="border:0px solid;"></a></div>
<div style="font-style:italic;">Great thread. Hmmm. I need to think about this in a new way.<br><br>
What about when the children are 3 and 6?</div>
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My 4 year old is extremely quiet and shy. I do not force her to interact with anyone she doesn't want to. At family gatherings I will tell people she is shy, or she doesn't like to talk to people or she'll sit with me or go play with the kid herd. I tell the people who see her more frequently that Gabriella has her walls up today so they know to tread lightly, because the more you try the more she retreats.
 

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I'm a big fan of saying they fell asleep in the car and just woke up. Everyone seems to "get" that and give the kids some space.<br><br>
I also try to remind the adults that all these people can be overwhelming and overstimulating.<br><br>
Also, with one overbearing, grandchildless older woman we know, I tend to tell her that DD1 is having a "needs Mama" day. This makes her think it's not everyday that she scares the bejeezus out of my kids, but that it's just today.
 

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My not quite 4 year old is one of the "slow to warm up to people" types, and I've always just been blunt and told people that they just need to give him some space and let him initiate contact.
 

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I like the way your DH stepped in as well. I'm not sure why people feel the need to try and force children to hug them or interact with them when they are not ready or don't want to be be bothered.. My personal experience is being polite and very soft in tone does not always work and people are still offended. My usual response is, "she's really not in the mood for that. She'll want to play when she's ready not now" and if I remove myself from the situation. I hate when adults try and force hugs on kids. I think it's important for adults to understand kids boundaries and be respectful of them.
 

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can you get there first? that way he adjusts to each new person as they arrive. Can you keep him in the sling when you first get there to protect him from MIL?
 

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Discussion Starter · #19 ·
Thank you all for the great ideas and advice! I will be looking forward to trying them (but not looking forward to seeing MIL of course! <img alt="" class="inlineimg" src="http://www.mothering.com/discussions/images/smilies/winky.gif" style="border:0px solid;" title="Wink">) I really appreciate the feedback.
 

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I always had DD in the sling when I entered places. My Dad is very overbearing and would be in her face immediately. I mentioned that she just woke up and needed some time (usually true) and would just move us out of range if he still wasn't getting it.<br><br>
When she was a bit bigger my parents would try to make her give hugs and kisses which I absolutely ABHOR! I firmly told them that we don't force her to do that (and if necessary I would physically intercede on pushy GPs), explaining that for her future protection from predators, I wasn't comfortable with anyone trying to force affection on her if she didn't want it as that sends a very wrong message to her.
 
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