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AIBU to not want anyone else to pick up my child?

(55 Posts)
TwelveTwentyfour Mon 06-Mar-17 21:30:13

DH and I recently adopted toddler siblings and they're still attaching to us, having had two traumatic moves already, first from birth parents then from foster carer who they were with over a year, they're rightly unclear on the fact that they're staying with us forever, even if they've heard the words and can even repeat them. The problem I'm having is friends and even total strangers just pick them up and cuddle them without permission. Yesterday the youngest fell and hit his head- not enough to make him cry, he's very rough and tumble- but a guy walking by who clearly saw we were all together stopped down picked him up and cuddled him, HE WASN'T CRYING! angry I tried to keep my cool and said "pop him down please" and he ARGUED WITH ME! Saying "oh he really took a bump to the head". Another time we were all in the park and I tend to my distance rather than helicopter parent (after the awesomeness of Love and Logic training recommended by adoption agency), and a woman took my child from the top of a climbing frame when she decided he was too small to make it down (he always figures it out in the end) and swung him round making close eye contact smiling and cooing over him. I didn't say anything that time because while horrific she did put him down and he carried on playing and I was too angry and stunned to keep my cool and construct a polite or even coherent sentence. Fallout from this described below.
So my question is: Is this normal? Do strangers do this with other kids too? Mine are unusually cute and affectionate (not biased on this one, it's really becoming an issue sad) but that doesn't mean they're teddy bears or dolls for the amusement of strangers. The big problem this causes is attachment confusion. Understandably, since we met them on a Monday and they were living with us by the Sunday. So they'll say at bedtime: "Mummy, is that nice lady from the park going to be my new mummy?" This happens a lot with all sorts of people who have just decided to pick them up and cuddle them! I'm constantly taking them off people. It's getting ridiculous. I can't quarantine them forever, they need to socialise and grow and play.
So...What should I do?! I feel like putting a sticker on their clothes saying "put me the f**k down, I'm not a toy!" Or a PA sign at the entrance to all our park crawl favourites saying "leave other people's children alone unless in mortal danger!" grin
Rant over, advice gratefully accepted. Xx

MeNeedSleep Mon 06-Mar-17 21:33:00


MeNeedSleep Mon 06-Mar-17 21:38:00

I have no experience with adoption and the attachment issues that go with it, but I would have thought that with time your dc will hecome more comfortable in their new environment regardless of well meaning people making contact with them.

CheerfulMuddler Mon 06-Mar-17 21:40:57

It is a bit normal, sorry. I think people's instinct is to help a child they think is in trouble (I know yours weren't, but the people in your stories obviously thought they were.) My little boy will make best friends with all sorts of strangers on public transport. Children, as you say, need to be interacted with, so I think they're designed to make people want to make friends with them, which is useful as they're hardly great conversationalists.
I quite see why this isn't helpful in your situation, though. Much sympathy. I guess you can send a general message to friends and family explaining why they need to back off, which might help a bit?

UnderTheNameOfSanders Mon 06-Mar-17 21:49:24

Agree it is normal.
Agree send a note to family and friends.
You may need to be more of a helicopter in playgrounds.
Congratulations flowers

smythe55 Mon 06-Mar-17 21:51:48


You get better at hissing 'put my child down NOW!'

It's really important you do all the picking up and cuddles.

You need to cultivate a reputation as the crazy mum who doesn't let others touch her kids. Really need to. And figure out the unpopular parks and times. Your children need you to appear crazy. They really do.

smythe55 Mon 06-Mar-17 21:53:41

I have seriously considered business cards to hand out.

Definitely send out a message to friends and family. Offer them a book list if they'd like to question it.

MintyLizzy9 Mon 06-Mar-17 21:54:10


My DS is also v cute and friendly and people would go to him, I just made sure I was close enough to intercept them! Honestly in the early days soft play was my saviour, seems like I was the only parent in the toddler section at times and as it is all padded people less likely to jump in when they do tumble. I kept the park visits to during school time so hardly anyone about.

i also mastered the 'what the actual fuck are you doing' look to any strangers who crossed boundaries.

I wish I had known about some theraplay games in the early days as some are great at building up eye contact and trust with such little ones.

To be honest regardless of strangers it takes time for LO's to realise this is forever, my DS had been removed then two FC placements within 6 months, then I turned up so needless to say it took a little while to understand I'm the last stop!

bostonkremekrazy Mon 06-Mar-17 21:56:16

twelvetwentyfour - if your child had fallen and bumped himself he should have been in your arms....whether he was crying or not, whether he is rough and tumble or not....
your job right now in these early day is to teach him, if you fall over i will pick you up and cuddle you....its part of the attachment process. please don't think oh he's a tough guy - and yell over, up you get X, and just carry on. Take every tiny opportunity to rush over and pick him into your arms and cuddle him. you can say oh you are so brave, you are a tough guy - whatever you want, but he needs you to be picking him up and cuddling him when he falls......

that bit of your post really stood out for me.

i've not heard of love and logic training - i'm a helicopter parent, i've 2 with severe attachment disorder - they need me to helicopter and show attachment parenting.....

but yes other people will want to be close to your children - children are cute after all, your job is to be closer still - it means you have to be next to your child, not looking from afar while at the park - if they are on the climbing frame you have to be stood at the bottom, (i know its harder with 2)
and be able to say, oh please don't touch her/pick her up/speak to her - we are currently teaching her stranger danger....thanks so much!

user1471555041 Mon 06-Mar-17 21:57:54

I understand how you feel to a degree, we have a baby who's only been with us a few months. She is incredibly smiley and total strangers are drawn to her, several times a day people will say oh she's so gorgeous and happy and reach out to touch her hand or stroke her head. I just want to shout back off angry!!!

smythe55 Mon 06-Mar-17 21:59:27

Helicopter is what newly adopted kids need. Think newborn close.

What is 'love and logic'? Is it specifically for traumatised children? Because that's what you have.

donquixotedelamancha Mon 06-Mar-17 22:03:00

No. I don't think that's normal. Adopted or not, if a stranger cuddled my kids without permission they'd get some grief. Some random thoughts.

1. Other people are annoyingly protective of my kids when I want them to be free to stumble and explore a bit, though I've never had to tell off strangers. It's a thing you'll have to keep battling.

2. Its a normal social expectation for people to coo over toddlers a bit. To an extent this is your issue and you just need to limit opportunities for interaction for a while and do lots of attachment building. You may need to avoid areas like the park, especially since you seem to attract boundaryless fools :-)

3. I would expect most of the people who do this stuff to be family and friends. You can lay down some firm rules in advance to anticipate problems. It's OK for people like grandparents want a cuddle, but limit to what you are comfortable with and make sure you do stuff like changing nappies and comforting cries.

4. DD1 is a bit over affectionate. We emphasise that its OK not to cuddle etc. She gives high 5s when she doesn't want affection. We've gently redirected and emphasised that affection isn't for random strangers.

Attachment comes with time. You are right to be cautious and want to build strong bonds, but don't worry- it comes.

TwelveTwentyfour Mon 06-Mar-17 22:04:23

Thank you all for comments so far they're a real encouragement, it's good to know I can get strict about it without BU, tough to everyone around but the kids are the priority.

MintyLizzy9 where can I find eye contact theraplay ideas? Will be working on that playground stare grin

TwelveTwentyfour Mon 06-Mar-17 22:06:26

Smythe55 Yes, Love and Logic is like all ages practical parenting with some overlap to the likes of Dan Hughes etc. Originally developed for trauma kids in looked after environments, it works so well I recommend it to friends and family with birth kids and it works well.

TwelveTwentyfour Mon 06-Mar-17 22:11:50

How long do u think attachment took?

smythe55 Mon 06-Mar-17 22:16:04

Attachment isn't an on off thing. It grows, and strengthens. But in traumatised kids it will always be more delicate.

MintyLizzy9 Mon 06-Mar-17 22:26:35

a few ideas listed here

Firm faves with DS are row row the boat, we sit facing each other holding hands and sing the song various ways, slow and steady, loud and fast rowing, whispering, silly voice etc etc. Another one is to again sit facing each other and I pop a small soft toy on my head and I cup DS hands and he catches the toy as I nod it off my head, lots of build up of reeeeeeady, steeeeeeeeeady whilst making eye contact (you get the idea!). We also look for 'hurts' so examine arms and legs for any little marks (sometimes imagined) and I make a fuss if him oh let mummy see that hurt (or whatever you call bumps and bruises) oh let me put some magic cream on that (then rub in a little blob of baby lotion), we then look for mummy's hurts and he rubs the lotion on me.

Popping bubbles is also popular, I blow them and ask him to pop them with his finger, his toe, his elbow etc, lots of giggles and standing close.

Cotton football, you one side of the table DC the other and blow a cotton wool ball to each other.

Round and round the garden is also good for us, lots of touch and eye contact, again the anticipation of the tickle means he's not thinking about much else and he really watches my face to see if he can guess when I'm about to tickle him as I really drag that part out!

donquixotedelamancha Mon 06-Mar-17 22:34:49

"Attachment isn't an on off thing. It grows, and strengthens."

Yeah. That.

Our two were both younger than yours, they formed good attachments quickly, but it builds over years. There are lots of times when DD1 seems to hate me, there are other people she loves seeing; but it's me that comforts them when they cry at night. It takes time and effort but its worth it. Playing with them and talking to them a lot is a big part.

tldr Tue 07-Mar-17 00:52:48

If someone picks up your child, you don't ask politely for them to give your child back, you take child straight back, no question.

You need to be closer to them.

Every chance you get to show them you're there for them, take it. Cuddles to fix the owies, kisses for being 'brave', looking for sore bits (real or imagined) together, all those things. Baby them.

Kr1stina Tue 07-Mar-17 10:07:21

Yes it's normal to some extent, depending on where you live.

But your kids will attract it more because they give out needy vibes. And it will affect them more because they are traumatised.

You can't change the world so you need to change how yu and your kids interact with it. Go to the park at quiet times. Be there all the time. I'm not sure that Love and Logic is the best approach for your kids at this time . It based on having a secure attachment and your kids are obviously at the other end of the spectrum .

Do they have challenging behaviour ? Why have you decided on the love and logic approach ? In your situation I'd be TOTALLY focussed on building attachment and funelling. And if they are that confused, they really shouldn't be seeing friends and family anyway, at least not in settings where they are picking them up. DH and you need to be doing everything .

Is you DH still on paternity leave? can he take some more time off or get flexible working to be with the children more? Also if you are funelling yu will be exhausted.

Also what Smyth says about excepting everyone else to think you are crazy.

TwelveTwentyfour Tue 07-Mar-17 10:07:36

Had a lot of fun practicing new playtherapy ideas this morning smile then later will venture to the park with some new mettle ready to confront! I think it's been tough to be assertive up til now since I've only been a parent 5 mins and haven't felt confident at all. I feel like everyone else must know better and I am an amateur imposter.

Kr1stina Tue 07-Mar-17 10:09:30

Oh and BTW don't hiss at parents in the playground. Just go over immediately , smile at them, say thanks and put your arms out to your child saying " come to mummy " .

The adult is just being kind. Family and friends are different and should know better.

But tbh you shouldn't be putting your child in that situation anyway.

Kr1stina Tue 07-Mar-17 10:11:15

It's totally normal to feel like a fake parent . Just fake it til you make it.

And no, don't go to the playground today unless it's raining. Or it's 9am where you live . Go when it's quiet.

smythe55 Tue 07-Mar-17 10:17:36

It may depend on where you live, but a gentle 'come to mummy' doesn't get people putting the kid down round here, particularly in a certain age group. I have been lectured on the need for a village to raise a child, etc, before I learned the mad hiss.

Of course, try being nicey nicey first, but protracted arguments about whether they did need to give my child back did no one any good. My practiced snarl is speedy and effective, and puts the grandad army off approaching again, which is a bonus.

But I recognise your response will depend on your community, and how thick skinned they are. My community is very touchy feely towards children, and very thick skinned. Politeness didn't work!

JustHappy3 Tue 07-Mar-17 12:21:49

It's completely normal to pick up a child and comfort them if you're the closest - whilst saying "oh dear where's mummy/daddy" so you don't look like you're running off with them. I do it.
For my adopted dc i just explained to playgroup mums that it has to be me who picks up. For strangers i just made sure i was there asap. It's ok to overstep usual politeness and prise them away instantly but hissing at other's is not good with the school playground in mind later.
I agree you should fuss over every hurt and bang. My dc didn't cry when hurt either and it was the biggest problem as far as her psychologist was concerned. He needs to know he doesn't have to cope with stuff on his own. You do get looks when you look like you're making a fuss over an unbothered child "oh no did you bang your head. That looks like it hurt. Shall i give it a rub" etc etc.

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