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I have never had a cuddle from my 4 year old

(86 Posts)
RogerThatOver Mon 16-Oct-17 21:40:02

My 4 year old has never given me a cuddle. She doesn't like to be touched and certainly not embraced or kissed. She will sit on my lap but usually is climbing all over me within ten seconds. She has no empathy for others at all and will reply to 'I love you' with 'well I don't love you' confused Tonight she sat on my lap and I looked into her eyes and told her I love her and she pushed me in the face and laughed. She seems to genuinely not understand that that hurts and looks bewildered when I told her it did. I see other 4 year olds running up to parents and grandparents after nursery and I'm starting to feel sad about the lack of affection. She shows that she loves me in that she loves spending time with me, draws me pictures, is polite and so on and I know some people are naturally less affectionate but AIBU to think her behaviour is unusual here?

Whatsername17 Mon 16-Oct-17 21:46:49

What happens when she falls and hurts herself or is sick? Does she want a cuddle then? My 6yo learned at about 4 that she could get a reaction by saying things like 'i love daddy the most.

RogerThatOver Mon 16-Oct-17 21:49:07

No, she will totally clam up, turn away and you pretty much have to wait for her to calm herself down before asking if she's ok. I don't react to the I don't love you's, she doesn't seem to do it for a reaction - she just looks puzzled by the idea of love and affection.

hiphopcat Mon 16-Oct-17 21:50:13

Awwww, you poor thing! She probably won't always be like that you know. Infant children can be a bit funny, and test the boundaries with parents. Just keep loving her and trying to show her affection. She will come round one day.

Have you spoken to the doc about her at all? Could it be maybe a slight chance she could be mildly autistic? (Just maybe, not necessarily......)

MrsOverTheRoad Mon 16-Oct-17 21:50:34

One of mine was never very demonstrative and still isn't at 13. She very rarely has a hug...I had one when she returned from a week school camping...but they're quick little hugs bless her. That's just her though...doesn't mean she doesn't love me.

Does your DD socialse well at school?

TinselTwins Mon 16-Oct-17 21:52:13

Does she cuddle other people?. I hated being touched by my mother. She has mood swings so you never know what you're gonna get with her. She acts all wounded when she was in a nice mood if i didnt reciprocate, but if you put your guard up because someone is emotionally unreliable - it stays up!

Im otherwise cuddley

devondream Mon 16-Oct-17 21:54:38

Maybe have a chat with your health visitor and ask if she can be assessed.

My DS is 13 and is diagnosed with high functioning autism. He is very bright and energetic but your description of your daughter reminded me of him at that age.

Lots of people who only meet him briefly can not tell he has this but it becomes evident with time. He does not get that subtleties of social communication.

Can talk to you about his latest craze for hours but does not say hello.

Such a diagnosis is not the end of the world. It let him get understanding and the support he needs at school.

He now says I love you but never instigates it. He will accept brief cuddles from a few trusted people now and is improving with eye contact.

Just something to chat through with the health visitor.

It is hard being a mum of a child who we think does not show us love but they have other ways of showing it. They are just more subtle.

BlueSapp Mon 16-Oct-17 21:55:17

Have you spoken with your doctor or health visitor about this because it does sound a bit like my nephew and he has been diagnosed autistic

fizzthecat1 Mon 16-Oct-17 21:57:23

Hi OP, what where her first years like? How old was she when she started Nursary?

RogerThatOver Mon 16-Oct-17 21:59:51

No she's never cuddled anyone. She will approach her younger siblings with a kind of growling noise, nuzzle them with her head and grind her teeth at the same time and I think that's the closest I've seen to her demonstrating affection.

RogerThatOver Mon 16-Oct-17 22:01:24

She didn't like being held as a baby but then was terrified of the wind once she started walking and only wanted to be carried but seemed uncomfortable if I did. She started nursery at 3.5.

ShiftyMcGifty Mon 16-Oct-17 22:02:35

Does she look at your face when you're speaking with her?

WellThisIsShit Mon 16-Oct-17 22:02:54

Sorry am going to give a predictable Mumsnet answer here, but I am wondering if your dd struggles with other social interactions or has any other traits that might point to something like aspergers? To be clear, no expert on this, but I am wondering if there’s something else going on underneath?

Maybe just a non demonstrative child though or finds direct displays of affection too much...

On that lighter note, my DS would say ‘I love you’ to his grandfather & daddy, but when I said it to him he’d look confused and reply ‘well I Like you’ and turn away.

I tried to be all sensible and ok with it, but it did hurt. Went on for a good couple of years.

Eventually I saw him do the same to my mother, and it slowly dawned on me that Ds wasn’t necessarily meaning it the way it sounded. In fact, he’d had made up an extra grammar rule!

He’d decided you say Love to males, and Like to females. He got cross when I wouldn’t say the correct thing to him, hence the cool answer and turning away.

Even now he loves a good clear rule with no exceptions or deviations!

DancesWithOtters Mon 16-Oct-17 22:04:30


Imabanana Mon 16-Oct-17 22:05:45

My daughter never came for a hug or said I love you, but actually she was just secure and self contained. I always tell her I love her no matter the lack of response. She went to uni 3 weeks ago and as I finished a phone call last week I said il love you and she said it back. It broke my heart that after 18 years she was lonely enough to need to say it.

whitehorsesdonotlie Mon 16-Oct-17 22:08:44

Op, I think your instinct is right. I think there are enough warning signs here for you to take dd to see the HV or GP to have her assessed. It doesn't sound normal to me.

RogerThatOver Mon 16-Oct-17 22:16:43

She mumbles and doesn't look at me when she's talking, then gets annoyed that I ask her to repeat herself. She is quite particular in life. People from nursery will say helll or goodbye to her and she looks at them like they're insane.

MrsOverTheRoad Mon 16-Oct-17 22:19:16

How was her language development? Is she a good speaker? Understands well?

TheNoodlesIncident Mon 16-Oct-17 22:19:56

What do nursery say? Have they any concerns about her social skills or lack thereof? I know they are not great for most dc this age, but there are developmental stages, i.e. plays alongside others, interacts with others, etc.

How does she respond if you are hurt? If she sees you are crying, for example?

AGnu Mon 16-Oct-17 22:21:21

My 6yo has Aspergers & had to be taught to hug. At 4 he'd fall over, insist he was fine but stand very still sniffing for a moment if he was really hurt. If it was a small bump he'd basically bounce & carry on like nothing happened.

He must've been around 4 when I talked him through how hugging people can make them feel happy & taught him how to put his arms around rather than just lean in my general direction. He also went through a phase of saying "I don't love you" but has learnt that that makes me sad. He still doesn't come to me for physical comfort, but if I ask he will hug me & very occasionally will give a hug without me having to ask - usually when he sees his little brother hugging me & us having fun together.

That said, just because my DS isn't physically affectionate & has Aspergers doesn't mean every child who isn't cuddly is on the spectrum! If you're concerned, there's no harm in asking for an assessment.

Jasminedes Mon 16-Oct-17 22:21:25

I think you should have a chat with your GP about this. Advice you get now, if she is diagnosed with a social communication difficulty such as asd, will help her and you in the years ahead.

gg1234 Mon 16-Oct-17 22:22:03

Get your child assessed for Aspergers asap.Altough I doubt that if your child till the age 4 has not shown any other specific symptoms of Autism they would not be falling in that spectrum .
Next is there are 5 language s of showing affection
Words of Affirmation: Expressing affection through spoken affection, praise, or appreciation.
Acts of Service: Actions, rather than words, are used to show and receive love.
Receiving Gifts: Gifting is symbolic of love and affection.
Quality Time: Expressing affection with undivided, undistracted attention.
Physical Touch: It can be sex or holding hands. With this love language, the speaker feels affection through physical touch.
Its not only a cuddle . So relax



CherriesInTheSnow Mon 16-Oct-17 22:22:04

Honestly - never having had a hug does sound unusual. Developmentally they do usually start reciprocating affectionate gestures like hugs and kisses, so even if she is now old enough to just be going through a phase, the idea of a 1 or 2 year old having never reciprocated an affectionate gesture does sound slightly unusual and may warrant a talk with someone.

Did you not have any questionnaires to fill out with your health visitor from around 2? I have just had one for DD and there is a whole separate one for emotional and social development which includes questions about smiling, wanting to be picked up, eye contact etc. Was it never brought up with at your HV visits/appointments, or did they not seem concerned?

Believeitornot Mon 16-Oct-17 22:23:41

My dd would be a bit like that in terms of not wanting cuddles when she was upset etc but I just backed off and now she's fine.
A lot of the time it was about me wanting cuddles from her and I had to be careful not to force it.
Now she's very cuddly.

I'd have a think about getting her assessed but also have a think about just showing affection in other ways. Eg sit and read stories together, touch her on the shoulder or stroke her hair etc. Something she'd be happier with.

IncieWincie Mon 16-Oct-17 22:24:15

Op, that all sounds very upsetting and I think you're right to be mindful of it. Please ask to see your health visitor with a view to discussing your concerns . And for what its worth my now 26 year old has never said he loves me but the older he gets the less important it becomes because I love him and thats all the matters. He does however do things such as rubbing my elbow skin between his fingers whilst giving me the most amazing eye contact and in my book thats just the same as him giving me a cuddle etc the way my other children do. He makes my heart swell - just not in conventional ways.

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