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Excessive Hugging
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Excessive Hugging

My husband and I have an 8 year old daughter that came to us as a foster child when she was 1.5 yrs old.  We adopted her when she turned 5 yrs old.  She has been in our stable household for six years.  She is an honor student and is very articulate.  She gets along well with other children, and there are no problems in school.  There are no other children in the home except for our 23 year old daughter.  The problem is that our 8 year old daughter constantly needs to be hugged every day, at least 4 to 5 times a day.  When she walks up to us at any time during the day, she just opens up her arms and hugs us and she does this for a long time until we say, ok.... Our son is 27 years old and when he visits she hugs him the same way until he tells her, ok...  She and our 23 year old daughter don't get along too well, so there is no hugging there, mostly because we suspect the 23 old is jealous of her little sister.  
She knows her biological mother because we did visitations for the first 2 years she was with us.  We suspect that she was sexually abused.  She had 6 sessions with a therapist regarding her masturbation problem and an incident where she was role playing with another girl and they were touching each other unappropriately.  Also, she was constantly playing in her tent, which we suspected was her hiding place where she could masturbate.  She is currently being seen by an encronologist to see if she is in a premature development stage, for she seems to be developing breast and she has pubic hair on her private area and under her arms.  She discusses her bilogical mother with other people stating that she misses her. She gets sad sometimes when her biological mother is mentioned.  She also has two older siblings that are living with their father(not her father).  She communicates with them over the phone.  She is a lovable child, and we love hugging her, but we feel that something is unusual for a child who needs to be hugged so often each day.  We don't want to push her away... what she we do?
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Your daughter does have an unusually high need for reassurance of your affection. You can honor this withour pushing her away by setting a limit on the duration of the hugs. Let her know that it is OK to ask for such displays of affection, but have her do so in a quick fashion. As long as this need is displayed with family members and she is not indiscriminately seeking hugs from peers or other adults, you needn't worry about it. This form of insecurity is not unusual for children who have not had the benefit of caring, nurturing parenting during the first year to two years of their lives. Those very early months and years are a time when children develop trust in their dependence on their caretakers, and if their need is not met they tend to carry an insecurity with them as part of their personality makeup.
4 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
Frankly to me that doesn't sound that weird.  Maybe she is a little over affectionate or needy, but 4-5 times a day out of maybe a 14 hour period she's awake doesn't seem that much.  Maybe place limits on the hugs.  Just give her a quick hug and then GENTLY step away or move her away when the hug is "done".  

As for masturbation, unless she was doing it in places where she shouldn't have been, it's natural and normal.  Even infants do it.  If she was in her tent, what was the problem?  That's a private place for a private activity.  That and one instance of "exploring" with another girl doesn't mean she was abused.  No, the touching with the other girl wasn't appropriate but kids don't always know that.  It's up to you as the parent to tell them (when they are young) "You don't let others touch your private parts and you don't touch the private parts of others." and explain why, and if she has questions to help her find the answers.    

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Avatar_n_tn
I dont think she was abused becuase you said that you had her since she was 1.5 years old. You have basically had her your whole life not unless it happend before that. But as far as the masturbating goes thats basically normal for little kids to do that and its good that shes doing it in private and not in public. Another thing, you should explain to her that you dont touch others in the private area. And explain why you shouldnt and if she has any questions then answer them to try to help her undestand.
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Avatar_n_tn
Your daughter may just need reassurance and feels comforted when hugged.  My grandmother used to hold me in her lap and tell me stories when I was her age and that filled my need.  Maybe letting her know that hugging is meant to be quicker and if she needs to be held then she can come to you or a trusted family member that does not mind taking time out.  
My mom didn't really hold me as a baby for long periods of time, she was a distant mother and only held us when we were being fed. Most of the time we were in the play pen from what mammaw told me.  My father wasn't home and didn't have time when he was there.  Grandma noticed that I loved to be held and that my hugs lasted longer too when I was around 5 or 6.  She would hold me in her lap, play with my hair, tickle my back, or sit close and teach me to crochet for long periods of time.  Maybe she just needs a little more bonding time...
Hope this helps
Nikki
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