I am a blessed grandmother of 5 and have always so enjoyed their company and they mine. However the past few months one of my 8 year old grandsons has not wanted me to hug him or for that fact touch any of his things. I at first thought he wanted to be "independent" and respected his wishes not to hug, enter his room or touch his things. I see him about monthly (though spent several days with him & his dad while little sis had surgery) recently and have become aware it is more than that. If I touch anything he suddenly doesn't want it (this can be candy or even money)! He now avoids any physical contact with me and one time when I "forgot" and patted him on the shoulder he rushed to the bathroom!I asked him why and he finally shared that he thought I had "germs!" He said I didn't do anything to make him think that, no one told him that, he didn't hear anything that might make him think that and that "it was just in his head." When I asked him if he was mad at me for something he said no. He sees me hug, hold, kiss, cook, feed the rest of the family and doesn't seem to object. I'm at my wits end. I've had him see my wash my hands to no avail. I had expressed my concern to my son and daughter in law as I saw no change.He thought I was trying to rationalize with an 8 yr old and his mom only says that he doesn't like PDA anymore. Yesterday I gave him and the rest of my grandchildren gifts and he lifted them out by two fingers as if they had cooties My son took him aside and spoke with him and an hour later my grandson came out and attempted a "hug" and said thank you but the present remained unwrapped and he's still avoiding physical contact. I gave hugs to everyone but him as I left as he was standing in the back and I didn't want him to feel bad if he couldn't. or was going to have any anxiety over it. I don't know how to approach it or even if I should. I tell him I love him but please, tell me he'll grow out of it and that he isn't going to be afraid of me forever!
I'm so sorry. This has to be difficult for everyone involved. It sounds very much like your grandson might be dealing with some ocd (obsessive-compulsive disorder). Fear of germs, and behaviors such as his, are pretty common in ocd. The way to deal with it isn't going to be by forcing him to hug or touch anything, but by figuring out what the fear is and confronting that fear. The rest will fall in line once the anxiety at the root of this is dealt with. I wish I could tell you he would grow out of this, but I think someone really needs to talk to the pediatrician about it. If it is ocd, it can become a monster for your grandson and everyone in his life. There are really effective treatments that everyone at home (and you) can do to help him, with the guidance of a doctor who understands. Good luck.
Aww, try not to take it personal...
You mentioned his little sister had surgery. Did your grandson visit a hospital and was instructed not to touch anything or anybody there? It might be a phase when his mind is analyzing the world of germs, sickness, old age and so on. I am sure it will pass.
I had once irritated the relationship between my son, his Grandma and the other grandchildren by asking him not to share drinks from the same bottle. They used to come down with strep throat too many times and I thought it would be a simple step to avoid the vicious cycle, not aware it would also upset Grandma.
Maybe someone can take it a step further with your grandson - there are lots of great books out there - to show which germs are transmitted in which way and how normal interaction usually has no issues, unless we are talking about Norovirus or Mumps and the like.
This may not be about germs. He may be taking against you for some reason that no one understands. Sit back and be patient. Don't encourage his affection or attention. That might only reinforce his behavior. Please let us know what happens.
Children can make associations between things that are not related at all and begin to have phobias. He may been upset that his sister was sick and thought about causes...remembered you touching her...and decided that there was a cause and effect relationship there. This kind of thinking is typical in someone with OCD, the difference between adults and children is that children do not know the fear is irrational so they don't try to hide their compulsive behaviors. It sounds like OCD or phobia, both are a form of anxiety and treatment is possible. Find help, resources and info here: and help find counseling for him. If it is anxiety, it will get worse over time and not go away on its own.
One of my nieces would not let her grandfather hug her and she gave him a wide berth generally. He said that when she was very little he was holding her when he slipped and fell. He kept her from getting hurt, but he thinks she got frightened. From that time on, she didn't want him to touch her.
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