Son is clingy and mom gets steamed

Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson, Ask Amy Ask Amy

Amy Dickinson is a general advice columnist.

bio | email

DEAR AMY: I'm married, with a 9-year-old son. My sweet boy is very affectionate, but really only with me. He climbs on me, hangs on me, etc. He is not emotionally disturbed or shy; he just does this to annoy me. I'm not very touchy-feely. I get hot when people are too close. My husband knew this about me before we married. I have tried to explain this to my son, but he doesn't care. I have had this problem my whole life. The only exercise I can do is swimming because I loathe sweating and being too hot. I have had my thyroid checked, and everything is normal. How do I make my son understand that it's not him and that I love him, but his crawling on me makes me cringe. I dread menopause!Too Hot

DEAR TOO HOT: Your son knows you love him. He also knows what he's doing is annoying.

His behavior is typical for a 9-year-old. Some kids this age will actually place their hands on either side of their mom's face and pull it toward them if she is trying to have a conversation with someone else. Others will grab attention by clowning around and/or treating their mother like a jungle gym.

All of this is a way to command and keep mom's attention. It's also a child's way to resist the transition into being a "big kid," with all its confusing uncertainty.

You should react calmly, consistently and with a minimum of fuss.

In a quiet moment, explain to your son that he is getting physically bigger and that he can hurt you by climbing on you. Tell him that from now on you're going to expect him not to do this. Tell him that if he forgets his good manners and starts climbing on you, you're going to remind him one time, and then you're going to ask him to leave the room if he does it again.

Your husband should assume a bigger role in your son's life, gently leading him into the mysterious world of male adolescence.