How JustAnswer Works:

  • Ask an Expert
    Experts are full of valuable knowledge and are ready to help with any question. Credentials confirmed by a Fortune 500 verification firm.
  • Get a Professional Answer
    Via email, text message, or notification as you wait on our site.
    Ask follow up questions if you need to.
  • 100% Satisfaction Guarantee
    Rate the answer you receive.

Ask Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC Your Own ...

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5576
Experience:  Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
54658078
Type Your Mental Health Question Here...
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC is online now
A new question is answered every 9 seconds

Our daughter, who is six and in first grade, is compelled to

Resolved Question:

Our daughter, who is six and in first grade, is compelled to hug every classmate in line before school every morning. At first it was cute, but now it's getting to be unusual, she's the only one who does it, and clearly many of the kids are annoyed. We've taught her all about personal space and boundaries and to ask first but now are wondering if we should tell her to stop altogether. She's also starting to feel sad that she always has to hug others, that they don't hug her. I feel terrible for her.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 3 years ago.

Hi, I'd like to help you with your problem.

 

Your daughter sounds like a very affectionate child, but you are concerned that she is too affectionate with hugging her classmates at school. I understand that you are worried about her appearing odd to others and that there might be something unusual about your child.

 

From what you said, I can see no mental health issues here. Your daughter seems very affectionate and for her age, she may just not understand why she cannot show her feelings for others anyway she wants to. Hugging is a warm and reassuring way to make someone feel loved. Your daughter may just have feelings of closeness to her classmates and friends and wants to make that connection with them.

 

Having her understand when it is appropriate to hug and when it is not is the main issue here. You have already brought up the issue with her and she responds with sadness. That is ok. Taking it a big further, you might want to try explaining to her that in almost all situations, hugging is saved for very special occasions and only for very close friends. It does not mean that you can't show affection for someone, you just have to substitute other socially appropriate gestures for that affection. Give her an example such as touching someone lightly on the upper arm or saying a very nice thing to them, like "I like your dress". She may find this a bit restrictive, but teaching her socially appropriate gestures is part of her development.

 

Also, set aside some time at home that she can freely hug everyone in the family. Make it a 15 minute or similar time period and let her express herself. She can also draw pictures of people hugging or have her stuffed animals hug each other. Maybe try a warm fuzzy blanket she can wrap around herself for snuggling. Another idea is to wrap her up in a fluffy towel that has been warmed in the dryer and after her bath at night, snuggle her up on your lap for a short time. These ideas may help curb her need to give affection in public.

 

I hope this has helped you,

Kate

Customer: replied 3 years ago.
Hi, I'd like to follow up a bit on this. We are a very affectionate family and she's got no shortage of hugs and cuddling at home. We've told her that hugs are for families and for special occassions. The problem appears to me to be that this is a compulsion that she can't stop, even when we remind her as we're walking to school, and she agrees, when she gets there, she can't stop herself, and she also hugs too long and too hard. It's clearly not "normal" behavior and I fear her being ostracized. How can we get her to control herself when it comes down to it? Thanks!
Expert:  Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC replied 3 years ago.

Ok, I understand. Thanks for the follow up.

 

You can also try a reward system. Each day she doesn't give a hug to someone in public, she gets a predetermined reward. It can be anything you both agree is fun and exciting to her, and that you feel would be a good motivator for her.

 

Also, try sending her to school with something she can substitute for hugs. Maybe a small stuffed animal (if it's ok with the school teacher), or something with good textile sensation, like a fuzzy key chain. Let her know that each time she feels the need to hug, she is to use this item to distract herself.

 

Both of these techniques are based in behavior modification and should work if your daughter's problem is behavior based.

 

If all else fails and you see no progress within the next few months, have your daughter see a child therapist for an evaluation. My bet is that this behavior can either be redirected or she will grow out of it. However, there may be a small chance there is something else going on here. With the lack of other symptoms, I highly doubt it, but it can't hurt to rule it out. What matters here is what your daughter feels like if she doesn't hug. The concern is that it has turned into a compulsion and in that case, a therapist can be a big help in solving her problem. Her doctor or your local community mental health facility can provide referrals if you need one.

 

You are doing what you can at this point so try not to worry. Most children at that age are more forgiving of others' behavior differences than at later ages so by the time the problem works itself out, the behavior will be long forgotten by her classmates.

 

Kate

Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC, Therapist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 5576
Experience: Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC and 2 other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you

JustAnswer in the News:

 
 
 
Ask-a-doc Web sites: If you've got a quick question, you can try to get an answer from sites that say they have various specialists on hand to give quick answers... Justanswer.com.
JustAnswer.com...has seen a spike since October in legal questions from readers about layoffs, unemployment and severance.
Web sites like justanswer.com/legal
...leave nothing to chance.
Traffic on JustAnswer rose 14 percent...and had nearly 400,000 page views in 30 days...inquiries related to stress, high blood pressure, drinking and heart pain jumped 33 percent.
Tory Johnson, GMA Workplace Contributor, discusses work-from-home jobs, such as JustAnswer in which verified Experts answer people’s questions.
I will tell you that...the things you have to go through to be an Expert are quite rigorous.
 
 
 

What Customers are Saying:

 
 
 
  • I can go as far as to say it could have resulted in saving my sons life and our entire family now knows what bipolar is and how to assist and understand my most wonderful son, brother and friend to all who loves him dearly. Thank you very much Corrie Moll Pretoria, South Africa
< Last | Next >
  • I can go as far as to say it could have resulted in saving my sons life and our entire family now knows what bipolar is and how to assist and understand my most wonderful son, brother and friend to all who loves him dearly. Thank you very much Corrie Moll Pretoria, South Africa
  • I thank-you so much! It really helped to have this information and confirmation. We will watch her carefully and get her in for the examination and US right away if things do not improve. God bless you as well! Claudia Albuquerque, NM
  • Outstanding response time less than 6 minutes. Answered the question professionally and with a great deal of compassion. Kevin Beaverton, OR
  • Suggested diagnosis was what I hoped and will take this info to my doctor's appointment next week.
    I feel better already! Thank you.
    Elanor Tracy, CA
  • Thank you to the Physician who answered my question today. The answer was far more informative than what I got from the Physicians I saw in person for my problem. Julie Lockesburg, AR
  • You have been more help than you know. I seriously don't know what my sisters situation would be today if you had not gone above and beyond just answering my questions. John and Stefanie Tucson, AZ
  • I have been dealing with an extremely serious health crisis for over three years, and one your physicians asked me more questions, gave me more answers and encouragement than a dozen different doctors who have been treating me!! Janet V Phoenix, AZ
 
 
 

Meet The Experts:

 
 
 
  • Dr. Keane

    Therapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    1262
    Clinical Psychology PhD, Licensed Professional Counselor with experience in marriage/family, teens and child psychology.
< Last | Next >
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/DR/Dr.Keane/2013-8-20_204325_drkeane.64x64.jpg Dr. Keane's Avatar

    Dr. Keane

    Therapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    1262
    Clinical Psychology PhD, Licensed Professional Counselor with experience in marriage/family, teens and child psychology.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/RE/resolutions66/2011-1-17_05728_IMG8202smilingeditedforJustAnswer.64x64.jpg Elliott, LPCC, NCC's Avatar

    Elliott, LPCC, NCC

    Psychotherapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    5024
    35 years of experience as a Licensed Professional Clinical Counselor, National Certified Counselor and a college professor.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/formybunch/2010-12-06_191055_img_0975.jpg Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC's Avatar

    Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC

    Therapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    3733
    Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/DR/DrAkiraOlsen/2012-2-20_746_AkiraADpicmain.64x64.jpg Dr. Olsen's Avatar

    Dr. Olsen

    Psychologist

    Satisfied Customers:

    2336
    PsyD Psychologist
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/norriem/2009-5-27_134249_nm.jpg Norman M.'s Avatar

    Norman M.

    Psychotherapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    2193
    UK trained in hypnotherapy, counselling and psychotherapy and have been in private practice. ADHP(NC), DEHP(NC), UKCP Registered and ECP.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/PsychologyProf/2010-07-15_171248_logos060400409.jpg Dr. Michael's Avatar

    Dr. Michael

    Psychologist

    Satisfied Customers:

    2177
    Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
  • http://ww2.justanswer.com/uploads/KURTEMMERLING/2010-07-23_215531_just_ask_picture1.jpg Steven Olsen's Avatar

    Steven Olsen

    Therapist

    Satisfied Customers:

    1727
    More than twenty years of expertise in counseling, psychological diagnosis and education
 
 
 
Chat Now With A Mental Health Professional
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
Kate McCoy, M.Ed, NBCC, LPC
3899 Satisfied Customers
Over 20 years experience specializing in anxiety, depression, drug and alcohol, and relationship issues.