Raising Davis: Some kids like affection, while others don't

By Meghan Bradley on March 29, 2013
From day one, Davis was a baby on-the-go. He hated being held. He was happiest when he could move, stretch, kick and feel space around him. As a baby, the only time Davis would stay still was during a feeding.

As he grew up, there were few cuddles. We could get them when he was tired, sick or really interested in a movie or television show. Otherwise, we were all to stand clear. Goodnight kisses and back scratches were okay but we were not to put our arms around him – he didn’t like the feeling. He likes it when we are close to him, even holding his hand, or playing with his hair, but as soon as the arm goes around the shoulder, he feels confined.

Now that he is seven, his affection has taken on a boisterous tone. He runs and attacks (he calls them running hugs) but I still feel like prey that has just been pounced on by a lion. He tends to poke or grab but is hardly ever gentle. He playwrestles with Paul all the time and loves that kind of interaction.

There is one little window of opportunity. As soon as Davis is finished eating his meal, he comes and gives Paul and me a very sweet cuddle (perhaps a hangover from the stillness of his baby feedings?). We always laugh and say “here come the full belly hugs.” That is one of the few times that a hug is offered!

I don’t give up. Every morning I ask for my hug before he goes to school and every night I ask for my hug when I get home. He rolls his eyes and gives me the best hug he can. These hugs can only happen at home. I am not allowed to show any affection outside the house. Davis wants the world to think that he lives alone!

When we go skating together, we glide around the ice separately. No endearing handholding for us. Paul skates fast, I’m mediocre, and Davis just wants to be left alone. Quality family time? I think not!

I am affectionate and so is Paul, but Davis just isn’t into it. We’ve learned that that’s OK. He likes us around, he loves doing things with us but when it comes to cuddles and hugs, we take them when and where we can.

Expert Advice ~ Sara Dimerman says:

Everyone has a different feeling for the amount of physical space that is comfortable between one another. Some people enjoy sitting next to or in the same room as their family members, but begin to wriggle with discomfort if you invade their personal space. Sometimes you can predict at a very young age whether your child will be a cuddler or a little more distant. However, even children who once were comfortable with being very close to their parents when little, often pull back in the presence of their peers as they grow. This pulling away is not typically a refl ection of their feelings toward you, but simply a normal developmental change as children work towards increased autonomy and independence. So try not to take their actions personally. Respect your child’s need for increased space and when you are allowed in, enjoy every single moment.

To read more of Meghan’s Mommy Diaries, visit raisingdavis.com or follow her on Twitter @raisingdavis.

Originally published in ParentsCanada magazine, April 2013.

By Meghan Bradley| March 29, 2013

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