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My daughter is 4 1/2 years old. For a long as i can remember she seeks comfort by touching my neck. I think it started when i would nurse her as a baby, she would reach up and touch my neck. She never had a lovey, never sucked her thumb or took a pacifier (probably becasue she had me). Even now she is never interested in a stuffed animal for very long. It never really bothered me but lately i really want to help her find a new way to comfort herself that does not involve me. How do i help her find something else with out making her feel like all of a sudden i'm rejecting her.


Jill Wodnick Replied: Dear One, thanks asking for ideas. Your daughter has a sensory need to finding comfort, finding her body in space and finding your body in space. It is OK if you use gentle words, like that doesn't feel comfortable to me or no thanks when she may instinctively reach to do the neck touch. You can redirect her touch or seek to expand her own sensory input: give her more deep pressure through rubbing her feet with lavendar oil, using a soft brushing protocol and sensory play like uncooked rice/beans/shaving cream etc. See if increasing her own sensory play if she reaches for you neck less. Good luck!
Posted On 2008-06-19 23:15:05
Janet Price Replied: Isn't it fascinating that something we so enjoy at one point in our child's development can turn to be so irritating at a different stage! It is often a normal experience in relationship over time, both with children, family and friends. So, what to do? Changing behavior often takes time and is accomplished in steps. Start by talking with her about this change in behavior that you need and want to see. Remember that children learn the most from our non-verbal communication. So she is probably already aware that this touching is irritating to you, but doesn't know how to make sense of that awareness. Tell her that you need her to hold onto something else when she needs that comforting. You do not need to make any value judgements when you make this statement, such as putting yourself down (I wish I could let you continue doing this but I just can't) or critisizing her (you are a big girl now and shouldn't need to touch my neck so much). Children are often very accepting of the truth. The more difficult part will be her changing a very comfortable and ingrained habit. For this, you can engage her in coming up with a possible solution. Ask her what she would like to use instead of your neck. Be prepared to have your own suggestion in case she cannot come up with one herself. Once you have agreed upon a replacement, then try it out. Be sure to give this trial period a chance of succeeding- at least two weeks. It is important during this time of transition to be as consistent as possible. Once you both have started using something else for comfort do not let her go back to using your neck. Remind her whenever she reaches for your neck that she is using _____ now and guide her hand to that, if needed. Step by step she will reach for your neck less and use the new object more for comforting. I also want to encourage you to find other ways to connect physcially that work for both of you- holding hands, hugging. That way she will know that you are not rejecting her and both of you will have opportunities to have a closeness that children need. Best wishes to you in this process of change.
Posted On 2008-05-29 15:38:04
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