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Did I react in the wrong way?

(30 Posts)
SpunBodgeSquarepants Wed 18-May-16 22:25:49

So today myself, DS (2.3) and DS's father went out for a quick meal (think cheap chain type restaurant).

We had just sat down and got DS in his highchair when a severely autistic boy (I would say late teens) approaches our table and is clearly enamoured with DS, smiling and waving his hands. He then goes to DS and strokes his hair, and then embraces him tightly and kisses the top of his head.

DS is like a deer in the headlights - he looks panicked and his bottom lip starts to go, so I smile and say 'Aww DS - you're getting a big cuddle! Good boy!'

Meanwhile this guy's mum is telling him to leave the little boy alone and let go, which he does, she says 'I'm really sorry' and I wave my hand and say 'it's fine'.

My question is this - did I react in the right way, considering my DS was clearly distressed with having a stranger hug him like that? DS father said to me 'Why did you tell her it was 'fine'?? DS was clearly not fine!'

I was more bothered with keeping my DS calm as the guy was hugging him so tight I don't think I could have wrestled him away even if I tried!

Energumene Wed 18-May-16 22:34:17

Kids take their cue from us, and I'm not sure what purpose it would have served to kick off at the older boy or his mother. She was clearly aware that you and DS may not like her son's behaviour, and is probably used to getting less than amicable reactions to her son, because there are some proper twats out there.

If you'd made an issue of it, your DS would have gone from wondering if he should be distressed in a strange situation to sure that he should be, which would in turn have upset the autistic teen who was basically being friendly, embarrassed his mother who was already keenly aware of things... I don't see how that would have been better for anyone. Your DS father needs to be more like you and consider the bigger picture.

Wolfiefan Wed 18-May-16 22:36:58

Clearly your child wasn't happy.
But the mother stops the behaviour, your child may have been startled but wasn't hurt and what would being cross have done? (Upset your child, her child, the mum?)
I think you were lovely and did just the right thing.

Birdsgottafly Wed 18-May-16 22:39:46

There was nothing else that you could say, without it escalating in some way and it upsetting everyone.

My youngest DD has SN and many at her SEN school had varying disabilities. It's fine to redirect things earlier by saying "wave hello to the boy" to your DS and if the other person goes in for a cuddle, to say "No, just wave" (or similar).

It can take a lot of work to teach some children with some conditions, not to touch other people and reasonable Carers don't mind you enforcing that boundary.

AngieBolen Wed 18-May-16 22:40:15

I think you handled it well.

The other boys mother knows as well as you it actually wasn't fine, saying the obvious would have been rude.

I might have said a calm but firm "No thank you" to the other boy, but would definitely have said "it's fine" to the other mum.

BillSykesDog Wed 18-May-16 22:41:15

I think it was fine, because his mother was aware and stepped in, no harm was done. It was all sorted. If his mother had let him carry on regardless might have been different, but given the circumstances I think it was fine. As his mother was dealing anyway causing a big fuss would have served no useful purpose.

WorraLiberty Wed 18-May-16 22:41:43

You're going to get a shit ton of posts now saying, "You sound like a lovely person OP" grin

YANBU. I would have done the same thing as you.

Ameliablue Wed 18-May-16 22:45:16

Reacting anything other than calmly as you did would probably just have resulted in both your son and the guy becoming more upset.

SpunBodgeSquarepants Wed 18-May-16 22:45:54

I hate confrontation anyway, but I wouldn't have wanted to embarrass the other mother. It must be hard to deal with situations like that almost every time you leave the house with your son as it is.

Well, DS is far from damaged by the ordeal. I'm not one to wrap him in cotton wool anyway!

herecomethepotatoes Thu 19-May-16 01:03:00

I think i'd have reacted in the same way. Although we rightly should put our own families above others, it's all a balance and avoiding upsetting the other boy and his mother for the sake of a quick hug seems like a fair balance.

If the boy had been giving frequent hugs or hugging for too long then I'd have stopped it. There are ways of being calm and stopping it.

beetroot2 Thu 19-May-16 01:11:35

I think you handled it well. No lasting damage will be done to your child.

Iknownuffink Thu 19-May-16 01:29:50

No harm was done and the mum of the hugging boy will have been massively relieved at your reaction. Your little one will not remember the interaction.

Mum of the hugging boy probably has to go through that every time she takes him out. Just imagine the stress she goes through on a daily basis.

Hamiltoes Thu 19-May-16 01:54:13

If you'd made an issue of it, your DS would have gone from wondering if he should be distressed in a strange situation to sure that he should be

I'm going to go against the grain here and say that in a strange situation, children should be distressed. I don't believe its ever ok for anyone to touch (hug, stroke their hair, kiss their cheeks, whatever) your child in a way that makes them feel uncomfortable. Be it granny, uncle, friend, stranger, or autistic teen.

I've caused a few awkward moments with this attitude, because most family just expect physical contact with children, but I think its really important for them to learn that if they don't like it, it stops and I back them up.

I'm not critising the way you handled the situation at all OP! Just putting a different perspective out there.

herecomethepotatoes Thu 19-May-16 02:06:49

I'm going to go against the grain here and say that in a strange situation, children should be distressed.

Why? Being distressed isn't something most parents want their children to be. They tend to prefer the 'able to handle various situations' approach.

I've caused a few awkward moments with this attitude

I bet you have.

We're talking about a quick hug from a girl with autism, not sitting on weird Uncle Fred's lap!

Out of the OP's style and yours, I bet I know which children will grow up with the most empathy!

manicinsomniac Thu 19-May-16 02:11:55

I think it was fine. Your DS wasn't in danger and you reassured him. He won't have given it another second's thought once he'd been released. Whereas a different reaction could have caused upset to all and embarrassment for the teen's mum.

A friendly hug to a baby shouldn't be a big deal, whoever is doing the hugging. Most of us wouldn't do it, due to social conventions. But it's not harmful.

VenusRising Thu 19-May-16 02:25:17

You need to listen to your little DS about this, let him explain it to you in his own words, and ask him if the other boy gave him a bit of a fright.

Let your little DS know that if he's not happy being touched by strangers that's it's ok for him to say No loudly. Tell him that he has a right to his own space. Explain that this other boy wasn't very well and didn't know about personal space, or another age appropriate way of saying it.

Your dad was right I think. Boundaries, and respecting people are important. You need to be more sensitive to your own DS, and let him know you're there for him. This might have set a precedent in his head that he has no rights to his own body and no say what happens to it.

Looking after children isn't "wrapping them up in cotton wool". I think you benefited more then you realise from your dad's care. I agree with him: what happened to your DS wasn't "fine" IMO.

SpunBodgeSquarepants Thu 19-May-16 08:17:06

Venus, I do agree that boundaries are important and of course anyone should have the right to say no to unwanted physical contact. But DS is only 2, he is pretty much nonverbal, he doesn't yet possess the skills to politely ask an autistic teen to keep his distance. And 'This might have set a precedent in his head that he has no rights to his own body and no say what happens to it' Really?? Is the same to be said of a newborn baby who is passed around for cuddles?

SpunBodgeSquarepants Thu 19-May-16 08:17:52

Also, just to clarify, it wasn't my Dad we were with, but DS's.

Hamiltoes Thu 19-May-16 09:42:52

Why? Being distressed isn't something most parents want their children to be. They tend to prefer the 'able to handle various situations' approach.

Of course its not.. But they are distressed for a reason, because someone they don't know is touching them and making them feel uncomfortable.

*a hug from a girl with autism, not sitting on weird Uncle Freds lap"

Whats the difference if the child feels distressed or uncomfortable? Are we teaching the child that its ok for one person to do it and not the other? confused

Pteranodon Thu 19-May-16 09:47:12

He doesn't have to politely ask, he is two and it's fine for him to yell NO.

I think you put the feelings of the other child and his mum ahead of your son's. I think it would have been OK to say to the older child, calmly and gently something like 'He's saying No, he doesn't like that, he doesn't want a hug just now, he might like a high five' - so that your son could hear you backing him up, but yes of course calmly and gently as there wasn't a real danger.

Hamiltoes Thu 19-May-16 09:55:10

Out of the OP's style and yours, I bet I know which children will grow up with the most empathy

Maybe true, but there are many other ways of teaching empathy than saying "its ok to let strangers touch you in a way that makes you feel distressed".. And I hope my children grow up with a sense of their right to their own body, something which I lacked unfortunately due to the "Uncle Fred" who wasn't typically weird and was probably just as nice and friendly as the girl.

Would be nice to remember that we all parent differently and put emphasis on different things due to situations and experiences we had ourselves.. Wouldn't make for good discussion if we all did it the same.

Princesspinkgirl Thu 19-May-16 09:59:19

I think you handled it well op well done smile

Clandestino Thu 19-May-16 10:03:38

I think you reacted in the best way possible. You sound like a lovely person, definitely not a push-over, more like someone who is a good judge of how to keep things calm when needed. Your DS hasn't suffered any damage, the other boy remained calm and his Mum didn't have to worry about potentially embarrassing situation.

2016Hopeful Thu 19-May-16 10:16:49

I don't think there was any point in handling it another way otherwise your son might have got really upset. The mother dealt with her son as soon as she could so you getting in a strop would just have escalated the situation.

Janeymoo50 Thu 19-May-16 10:22:11

I think i'd have done the same, your son was a tad confused and alarmed, you reassured him, the moment passed. No harm done and you avoided it "escalating" by reassuring the other mum.

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