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The belly boundary: Telling my toddler “no”

My girl is nothing if not stubborn. Sunshine wants what she wants and she lets us know that. One of the things Sunshine often wants is “belly.”

The boys had comfort zones, too. Alfs used to like to touch my neck, and Woody was also a belly kid, but Sunshine’s belly thing has lasted longer than either of the boys’ comfort touching. Frankly, it’s starting to be annoying. I’m sure I’ve just received a few bad mommy points for admitting that openly, but it’s true. I’m tired of the grabby, poking belly touches. She’s not always grabbing and squeezing, and that is where part of the problem arises. At bedtime or first thing in the morning, if she keeps her hand still, I don’t mind so much. I understand the need for soothing in those groggy in-between moments. It’s the mid-day, “Mommy, belly!” insistences and trying to lift up my shirt in public that’s feeling old. It’s grabbing and poking and squeezing that I don’t like. Yes, I say, “No.” Of course I do. But as I said, Sunshine is a stubborn girl. I’ve tried to explain, but she’s a toddler. I have established rules and I stick to them: no belly out in public, no grabbing or squeezing or poking ever, hand still at all times and so on. But even after a couple of months of the rules, she whines easily if she doesn’t get her way. I don’t give in, and she whines more. Stubborn.I had hoped that with some boundaries, the belly touching would just slowly go away, before I even realized it was ending. This is what happened with the boys. I missed it when it was gone, but was also relieved that the boys reached that point on their own. Clearly this is not how it is going to go down with Sunshine. I’m going to have to cut her off completely. I dread that and look forward to it at the same time.I find myself struggling with setting this boundary firmly and permanently. When? How? Even why?! She’s my last baby, after all, and when she is done with the comfort touching, that’s it. That’s really it.

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