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March 27, 2005


Jia Ling

My child does not like tickling but is very ticklish, hence when he breaks the rules I let him choose to be spanked or tickled. Normally he chooses the tickling

Miss the tickling

As a boy, I had an older sister who would pin me down and tickle me on a daily basis. She had two girlfriends who often helped with one pinning my hands above my head while the other sat on my knees and tickled my feet. My sister sat on my stomach and got my ribs and the combination of not being able to move and the tickling drove me nearly insane. It was a very exhausting ordeal and many times I broke down in tears from it. I never really got mad at them or considered it a form of abuse though. I guessed I sensed my sister and her girlfriend's intent was not to hurt me but to have fun. You would think I would hate being tickled, but somehow that got coded as an expression of love. Strangely over time, I actually miss being tickled like that and have lost a lot of my ticklishness as an adult.


I was tickled tortured as an infant to the point of not being able to breath, and passing out, I was also pinched hard, squeezed hard, bit, had fingers rammed up my butt, and so on, and this went on probably pretty much a lot from the ages of 1 to 3, and all this rape and torture didn't hit me till my late 20's thx to yoga and hypnosis. My brother did it to me, and my dad did it to him and my sister and so on, why exactly this need to hurt started from i'm not sure. All i know I'm not passing the buck. I've essentially been ostracized by family for bringing up the abuse. I told my dad and he got pissed. But I'm proud of myself. The abuse totally delayed my development, and i am essentially a kid now in my early thirties, and my body and mind r slowly venting the abuse, I'm even still growing, and am going thru changes most pre teens go thru. I still like tickling, but with kids, u have to take it easy, and i would insist that if you see an adult being abusive with a kid with tickling, to intervene and treat it as abuse. Thanks.


It depends onthe person. Some hate it, some love it. There is a reason, for those people who like being tickled but not for too lone, there is a answer to it. After about 2 to 3 minutes of being tickled you start to lose oxygen.


yer ... my mum trys to get somehow 2 tickle me.. i mean i being tickled sometimes but by my mum i dunno im more awkward!!! and stuff
but ppl do tickle me all the time

J. K.

Tickling is a ticklish issue! For me-it's not very funny- I was/am
sensitive to it (light touching)!
Laughing/smiling is not always a sign of enjoyment- (ie- you might laugh/smile as a nervous reaction) I think we need to respect
the rights of others-especially kids.



I am 37 and my 12 yo son has his hobby that is to tickle me or anybody.
Its odd sometimes for me cause i dont know if s inapropiate,most of the time he prefers to tockle me rather than been tickled.
I want to think that s just a childhood thing.


I love getting tickled..but i am EXTREAMLY ticklish..I have best friends who are teachers and one day i got so out of controll the tackled me and sat on me and tickled me... that took out alot of my energy...I am veryver ticklish all over my body... i think tickling is a way to connect with you family and friends.... When i get older and have kids i plan on tickling them so when they get in trouble i dont punish them i just hold them down and ticklthem


I don't know how I feel about tickling really. I know my dad tickled me as a child and didn't let me go. It was horrible and frightening. Later he was sexually abusive and I haven't been the same since. Now that I'm older, I don't like seeing kids being tickled at all. I get very uncomfortable, I look away and create noise and babble so I don't have to see it or hear it. My fiance likes tickling his little cousins or his friend's kids and I just get so emtionally frustrated. I don't know what to do but I felt like posting this in hopes I may get a response. I want my kids happy but...


Great column. We are like you, and Liam is like Pearl. He demands tickling sometimes, and then starts giggling in anticipation. I love it.

But I was going to relate a story like mgood's although perhaps not as extreme, about my step father. When he first started seeing my mother I was six, and tickling was a good way of interacting with me. It was fun and I liked him. But after he moved in it quickly became apparent that he didn't know when to stop - and tickling, or playing rough, would frequently end in tears.

Now I see the same thing happening with my son. It hasn't ended in tears yet, but I watch him simply not picking up on the signals that it is getting to be too much. So sometimes I, or my mother has to intervene. It makes me sad because I can see his relationship with Liam deteriorating in the same way that mine did, as he fails to get that enough is enough.


Mine is another family with a tickling history. In fact, it was the one way that I could annoy my little sister without my folks admonishing me - they were laughing along with us! Our own daughter hasn't taken a big shine to it yet, but she's at a stage where our interaction is being more of a two-way exchange, so we'll see ...


It's timely that I should have found this today. I love how you refer to tickling in the context of safe physical interaction, and that you are careful to create happy anticipation for it. My husband and I, as people who have an aversion to being tickled, were instinctively doing this with our daughter.

Yesterday my mom was visiting, and once again my husband and I noticed that she, as she puts it, "likes to play rough" with our one year old daughter. We can see by Josephine's expression that this is not always a fun experience for her; but when addressed, my mother's response is that "you have to teach them to play along". We've watched the leg pulling, pinching, and tickling escalate in intensity as she's grown more, to express it in a word my mother didn't use but certainly meant, durable. She phrased it as "Now I can really play with her."

Since there is no explaining to my mother the nuances of exactly what you described in your post, we reaffirmed a decision we made after the previous visit where the "play" escalated beyond our comfort level and we had to intervene by discreetly removing our daughter from the situation.

We will work very hard to teach her words and gestures to use to protect herself now (like NO! or head shaking); and my mother does not babysit her or spend time alone with her until Josephine has words to either tell us what happens or tell my mother to stop. We just hope that my mom listens then.

It's a shame that we have to protect our baby from her grandmother, and that her comfort level with such an important person in her life has already been compromised. I shouldn't have to teach my mother about boundaries. You make a salient point that is beyond the ken of my mother's generation and particular upbringing: that children are vulnerable and unable to protect themselves. But I would add that in our case, that it's sometimes harder to protect them from loved ones, and that sometimes danger isn't big and scary, it's just worrisome and uncomfortable.

When my mother claimed it's all harmless fun, I couldn't bear to point out that it's not. Over the past year, as I've witnessed her interactions with my daughter, and have heard more stories than ever about how I was raised, I've realized where a lot of my damage comes from.


Our family loves tickling too...My kids are the same way - they start to get tickled way before the actual tickling starts.
I've never really given this much thought before. But, yeah... tickling does in a way, teach us something about the delicate balance we take in most things in life - knowing when to push and pull back.


We also use it as an expression of love and fun. Both my daughter *love* to be tickled, but tickling is a funny thing. I'm the exact opposite. I hate being tickled, and my feelings about it stem entirely from a time when my grandfather tickled me and wouldn't let me go. It definitely wasn't any fun. I was about five at the time, and after that I was afraid to go within arms reach.

Robin P

Even at 7 yrs old,Lillianna is fascinated by the fact that she can't tickle herself. She loves to be tickled. I like my feet tickled. For me.it's so relaxing.

There are many families with tickling issues. Sometimes tickling is associated with past abuse,as in the case of one of my friends. In their family,there is a strict no tickling policy now.

As far as Lillianna is concerned,I could tickle her all day and she would be delighted. It sounds like Pearl is the same way. The anticipation is just as good as the tickling.

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