I'm feeling uncomfortable with the level of affection my 9 year-old son shows around his 7 year-old sister. Sometimes she will lay on top of him in a playful way and he hugs her quite lovingly with a big grin on his face. He makes noises of contentment and bliss like you might expect a husband and wife to do when they embrace.
He has always been this way - not just with her, but with us as well. I also observe him kissing her sometimes when he hugs, again making those sounds. His mannerisms remind me of an adult.
We are an affectionate family and I certainly don't mean to discourage closeness, but this makes me uncomfortable!
From: Ann, Buffalo, NY
This kind of expression of affection is usually associated with younger children. It's not surprising, for instance, that a 7-year-old would initiate it by crawling on the brother. It's a kind of instinctive need for affection that typically disappears in the latency years, as 8 and 9-year-olds become more aware of social norms. So it is somewhat unusual -- not off-the-chart worriesome -- in a 9-year-old.
Does your son have any social or behavioral issues that might make it a challenge for him to recognize those norms? What role models might he be imitating? Since you're describing an "adult nature" to his affect, have you considered that he has been exposed to sex scenes on screens? From a babysitter, maybe? At a playmate's house? From the older sibs of playmates?
No matter what, it's perfectly reasonable for you to put a lid on this by making the standard clear: "C'mon, get off each other. That's not the way sisters and brothers hug. If you want to show your brother or sister you love them, a standing-up hug is good, or a smack on the cheek." Keep your tone matter-of-fact. If that doesn't put an end to it, or you see anything else in addition, I would bounce it off your pediatrician.
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