How do I stop my 6yo son from being SO overly tactile with friends

(19 Posts)
Timetoask Tue 11-Jun-13 16:18:38

Has anyone had a child that loves hugging his friends, invades their space a bit, puts his face right on front of the other child's face making the other child push away?

DS is a happy boy, a bit quiet, lovely, has a small group of friends, doing well in school, etc. I do fear that he is alienating a few of the children because of this excessive physical contact. I have already seen some of them move away when he gets so close. hOW CAN I STOP IT???

I have tried explaining, talking, he tells me he understand, but forgets and does it again. He has a brother with special needs that is very tactile so I am not sure if it is learnt behaviour from his brother or if is his natural instinct (my gut feeling is that it is the later).

Any ideas please? It is not getting any better and I don't see the other children behaving like this.

Sixhexagons Tue 11-Jun-13 16:45:43

I have a five year old like this - watching with interest!

Timetoask Tue 11-Jun-13 16:50:06

Sixhexagons... lets hope someone comes along with hits.
When DS was in reception I put it down to immaturity. He is now ending year 1 and things aren't improving. I think I need to sort it before it becomes a real problem.

Sixhexagons Tue 11-Jun-13 16:54:44

At the moment I am putting down to immaturity like you and being a generally friendly/tactile boy - there are some children though who definitely don't like it and he should be learning now not to hug teachers

Timetoask Tue 11-Jun-13 17:06:18

To be honest if it was "just" hugging I would be less concerned, but it's the space invading and getting on your face that concerns me even more. It is very annoying for the other people.

geminigirl Tue 11-Jun-13 17:16:21

Can I join the watchers? My 5yo in a very huggy fella, loves to hug everyone, gives his friend a hug when he's leaving school etc....he actually was a whole lot worse, he'd bound into any group like a labrador puppy on skittles and was viewed with suspicion by children of his age cos he was very over friendly. He seems to have settled a little bit now being in P1, he doesn't invade peoples space so much so I'm thinking it's just a maturity thing. I didn't want to stifle his nice affectionate temperament but my goodness he was a space invader.

Timetoask Tue 11-Jun-13 18:11:06

gemnigirl... please join.
It sounds like your DS is better now? My little one is already 6! Wondering if it's taking him longer that average to mature.

MuseumOfHam Tue 11-Jun-13 18:30:35

Hello, can I be in your gang? I've got the 6 year old version of this. I don't have any answers...yet. We started from the point of view that he just doesn't have the same inate sense of personal space as other children so he will have to learn about it. But, try as he might, a 6 year old is not going to remember all the time, and constant reminders can set him off on one (he's a bit volatile too!).

He is just coming to the end of P1 and things are a little better, but it's certainly not 'fixed'. Class teacher picked it up early on as a big problem and has been working on reminders, keeping him in a calm place etc. She got Ed Psych in to observe him, who recommended a referral to paediatric OT.

I had a initial chat with the OT, who thought there was some sensory stuff going on and also decided to observe him in school. The observation was today, and she is going to phone me (hopefully tomorrow) to let me know what she thinks and where we go from here. So this is very much a work in progress...if I find out THE ANSWER (please!) I'll come back and tell you all!!

Timetoask Tue 11-Jun-13 19:25:05

Hi Museum. my ds is also 6 coming to the end of year 1, but not getting better!
I don't think my DS has sensory issues, but who knows, maybe I should him checked by an OT? I don't see this need for touching and hugging with anything else but friends and older people as well (rather than toys, things, etc). He is overly affectionate.

If you do find an answer please let us know. The older ds gets the more strange awkward this behaviour looks.

geminigirl Tue 11-Jun-13 19:49:15

I do think he's getting out of it a bit, it used to pain me that people just didn't 'get' him, esp other children, he's very friendly and chats away to everyone, says hello to random people on the street and seems generally a very happy chappie but sometimes it was too much for people which I understand and I know that he needs to learn boundaries. I worry that he is too trusting also AND I'd say that there is NOTHING that he doesn't tell the teachers at school. He was telling me that he told the teachers off for not wearing their seatbelts on the bus on the school trip.....Oh God save us.....blush

Sixhexagons Tue 11-Jun-13 20:57:41

Ah yes, the random saying hello to people in the street (and last week linking arms with a random man on a tractor ride :-)

CinnabarRed Tue 11-Jun-13 21:00:22

I'm one of you too. I can see workmen flinching when DS1 approaches in case he tries to huggle them again.

Alibabaandthe40nappies Tue 11-Jun-13 21:08:06

Oh I am so glad not to be alone!

DS1 is just like this. He is much, much better in school and has really learnt to the point where it is no longer a problem.

Out of school is another matter, even with children he goes to school with if we see them in the shops or at swimming or whatever. He gets soooo close and keeps touching them, which many are clearly uncomfortable with. It isn't an issue with children who are actually his friends, rather with children who he knows but not well enough to feel completely at ease.

He isn't quite five yet, so I'm hoping he will grow out of it soon!

nohalfmeasures Tue 11-Jun-13 21:11:30

Mine did this at the same age, It's a phase and he''ll grow out of it. I just explained that not everyone is a huggy type person but it didn't make a whole lot of difference

DoodleAlley Tue 11-Jun-13 21:22:38

Oh I have a DS like this who is starting school next week.

He doesn't understand why strangers in the street aren't bothered by the toys he is telling them about or his new little sister he is excited by.

I think he is beautiful but worry others won't appreciate him. Heck even I get a bit frustrated by him being quite so in my face when I'm breastfeeding his sister!

unadulterateddad Wed 12-Jun-13 18:25:49

My DS had the same problem, he just developed a bit slower than some of the others (as he's not had a lot of playfriends). It's really hard to deal with as a parent and some of the other less understanding parents did cause issues at school. Luckily his teachers in R & Y1 were on-side and really tried to help

Coming to the end of Yr2 and he pretty much got it - no real problems now.

Keep reminding them and it will improve with time fingers crossed for you

GoldenGreen Wed 12-Jun-13 18:37:09

I have one of these smile - the hugginess is slightly better (or at least with more appropriate people!) now he is seven, but he still spills his life story to everyone. It's sometimes entertaining watching people's faces change when he starts to explain (unprompted) about his two mummies.

Sarah1611 Wed 12-Jun-13 18:59:57

Rather than explaining it from the point of view of others, have you tried saying to him more directly about it when he's doing it to you?
So, say he comes in close to your face, have you tried a approach more along the lines of- "I don't want to talk to you when you're so close into me like that. You don't need to lean over to talk to someone, you need to talk to them just standing up straight" Then when he's stood 'appropriately' ask him what he wanted to talk to you about, and show your enthusiasm- it's important that the message isn't people not wanting to talk to him at all. He may benefit from a more literal explanation of how to act.

Has he got a bear or something he hugs at home? Maybe he could be encouraged to save his daytime hugs for the bear when he comes in from school? Really the solution is for his friends to say directly that they don't want him to hug them all the time, but that quite possibly won't happen!

Also try and divert hugs or excessive tactile-ness to something more socially acceptable and age appropriate like a high five. Maybe as a parent try and cut down (it sounds awful) on hugging during play, making sure it's more of a bath and bed time thing (once again making clear how much you love having cuddly bath/bed time with him) and instead when he goes to hug at other times, re divert to a high five or something similar to maybe encourage this thinking at school.

Good luck!

MuseumOfHam Wed 12-Jun-13 21:58:02

Hi all. The OT called me back. She does think there's some kind of sensory integration thing going on with DS. She thinks he doesn't cope very well with transitions from one type of activity to another and changes in routine. He becomes over stimulated at these times and this is when he gets too tactile. I'm not sure it's as simple as that but that seems a good thing to start working on.

DS has an appointment with her next week and she says she's going to give us some strategies we can use. the main thing she suggested was deep pressure, which I'm not familiar with but we'll be finding out about next week!

timetoask my first stop would be a good chat with the class teacher. Have they noticed it? Is it excessive in their experience? Is it impacting on his friendships at school? Have they dealt with any kids like that before or got any strategies they can use at school (and you can sing from the same hymn sheet at home). We went through all that before it was recommended we got other professionals involved.

I'll keep you all updated if we get any good advice next week.

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