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My daughter nursed until she was almost 3 1/2 years old. She's 7 years old now and in some ways, I feel like she never really weaned! I work at home, she's homeschooled, we still roomshare and in the early morning she sneaks into the bed for cuddles.

This is all fine and lovely but something I'm noticing more and more is her complete disregard for my personal space. When she's cuddling in bed, she wants her head and sometimes her hand on my breast, like she did when she was a nursling. Even out of bed, particularly when she wants reassurance, it's right for the boob. Not just clothed, either. Sometimes she'll reach in to my shirt or lift my shirt up, at home or in public! :eek:

This was cute when she was a wee toddler and didn't know any better. It's not so cute at 7 years old! One of the most worrisome aspects to me is that she's all or nothing. I've explained that I don't always like to be cuddled like that and that boobs are private parts on Mommy that she doesn't want touched all the time.

I have explained to her over and over if someone tells you to stop, you have to stop! If I remind her that she needs permission to touch there, she gets huffy and is all, "Fine! Then you never want to cuddle me!" and gets very, very hurt. I have to remind her several times a day. This isn't even starting on her general need for "cuddles" which are cute but disruptive because she wants to be hugged *all the time*.

What do I do?? I don't want to withhold affection but neither do I want to be groped all the time, particularly by a 7 year old who IS old enough to understand. I've tried role playing with her, getting her to empathize, but it's done no good so far.
 

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This sounds like kind of a tricky problem so I don't want to rush into any suggestions, but I did want you to have a response so you know you are heard!! Let's see if someone who has actually dealt with this turns up today to help you!!
 

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I agree, very tricky! It sounds as though you have plenty of time together, so it's probably not that she's feeling like she needs "more". Is she your only, or does she have siblings? Maybe she needs a bit of a distraction? Does she get together with other kids regularly? (I homeschooled my kids as well, but at the time I had four younger kids and they kept each other busy, plus we had a few other homeschooling families we saw frequently.) I know how hard it is to schedule stuff when working and homeschooling (doing that now, lol), but I wonder if maybe she were around other kids who (presumably) aren't as hands-on with their parents, maybe it would set an example?

{{{HUGS}}} But, look on the bright side, rather have this issue than an unattached child, yes? :)
 

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Being attached to a parent in a borderline unhealthy way is a problem I've witnessed in children who spend too much time alone with just one parent. Not saying this is what's happening here, but it kind of sounds like it. Does she have any hobbies where she spends time with other kids and adults away from you? Have you thought of enrolling her in school part time? (or are the schools around you bad?) Does she cuddle a lot with her father as well?
 

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My 4.5 year old weaned a year ago, and other than their ages our situations sound identical. He wants to hold/cuddle my boobs ALL the time, and we have the same talks about private parts and personal space and how he has to ask first, etc. I usually say something like, "I get to decide who touches my body, just like you get to decide who touches your body." I think it's hard for him to categorize my breasts as private or even mine, since we shared them for so long. For now, rather than trying to cut him off entirely, I remind him to ask for permission first.

Like your DD, my DS just has an insatiable need for physical connection and cuddles. He comes into our bed every night at some point to snuggle. I've found that if I preempt him and ask HIM for cuddles throughout the day, it seems to satisfy him more and he isn't on my boobs so much. Sometimes leaning into an issue like this is more effective than trying to resist it, and if you start asking her for cuddles during times when you're willing and up for it, then her argument that you never cuddle her would be negated. You would also be modeling how you want her to act with you, by asking her first if she wants to cuddle and reacting appropriately when she says no. As for the boobs, I'd start by making a firm rule that she has to get your permission before touching. I think that's reasonable to ask of a 7 year old. It is still teaching boundaries around bodies, but she may feel less cut off.


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My second is like this, maybe to a slightly lesser extent. She self-weaned at 2.5, and was never super snuggly, but in recent years, we have noticed that she is very touchy with me and with my DH. (She's almost 6)

I think at 7 your DD is likely old enough to understand the concept of respecting the privacy and physical space of other people - it might be harder for some kids than for others to grasp this idea. And it's a principle that might need frequent repeating. The way @luckiest described it sounds great: "I get to decide who touches my body (and when!) just like you get to decide who touches your body."

You can respect your child and her need for extra cuddles, and you obviously do a lot to make sure she has adequate physical affection - but it's also okay/absolutely vital for you to help her while she's young understand that she's obligated to respect the personal space of other human beings. It depends on your comfort level...but I think with a 7yo it's perfectly okay to say: "Those are private, let's try a hug instead." It's good for kids to learn that there are places on other people where it's okay to put your hands, and some places are just off limits without prior mutual agreement. :)
 

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I wonder if it has something to do with her nursing into the age where she can remember nursing? Most children really begin to form memories and remember things after three. Before that time it is spotty what children remember. So when children nurse longer they have more of an intact memory of what that is like, and perhaps this leads to a bit of a preoccupation with it?
 

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Do you have a firm "no" that you use for some things? You say she's old enough to understand. Bring out the "no". She'll be fine.
 

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Eh, some kids are just more physical than others regardless of weaning age. Neither of my girls weaned until past toddler age and I have one of each- dd1 would barely tolerate hugs at that age while dd2 (almost 7 now) is just like your dd-on me to the point of being underfoot.

I've just been explaining consistantly in a matter-of-fact tone that while I love her very much and love snuggles sometimes I'm not in the mood to be touched/it's dangerous right now (because clinging to me in front of the stove, walking, etc isn't a good idea, dammit!) with a heavy emphasis on the fact that everyone has the right to decide how & when their own body is touched. She's not always thrilled by it either, but she accepts it. Making it a game helped- "I need to have a bubble around me right now! Eeeek, don't pop my bubble!" as well as giving her a time frame like "I need personal space to finish reading this; when I'm done we can cuddle & I'll read you a story"
 

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I dont think its related to weaning age. My 2 oldest (now 9 and 7) self weaned at 5 and at 3 1/2 respectively, and we dont have this problem. If they are affectionate, all the better, since I hear that older kids/teens dont want to go near their parents. OTOH, your personal space is your personal space, and you can teach her about bodily autonomy, and respecting others' boundaries. That way, she will also know how to do that for herself.
Its your body, and you dont have to be uncomfortable. Just let her know that.
 
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