Childrearing

It’s Not Funny: Tickling A Kid Who Hates Being Tickled Is Child Abuse

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Tickling Child AbuseMy father used to tickle me. He would hold me down and have my sisters tickle me. I would be tickled until I wet myself, and we all know, it’s all fun and games until someone pisses all over their pants. I hated being tickled. My mom knew this, and would yell at my father when he tickled me, but he would still tickle me, which would usually end up with me crying and hiding in my room, hearing my sisters squeals of laugher coming from down the hall. They liked being tickled.To this day I can’t tolerate being tickled, and I have almost given my own spouse a black eye by my knee-jerk freak-out reactions when someone tickles me. I cannot even have a pedicure.

My own daughter adores being tickled, and will jump on my bed, demanding my husband and I tickle her until she is crying with laughter, and then she will catch her breath and ask us to do it some more. I cringe inwardly when she wants this, because for me it causes an almost visceral, nauseous reaction – I hate being tickled that much. And I think tickling a kid who hates it is abusive.

My own father probably didn’t see what he was doing as abusive, it was a different time back then, and I’m sure there were many occasions when he started to do it and my mom yelled at him and he didn’t. But when I think back on the times I was tickled, being held down, begging people to stop, and they didn’t.. it’s scary. Even writing about it I feel all creeped out. I’m sure it has to do with the feeling of being overpowered, and not in charge of my own body, and people doing things to me against my will, and looking back at it as an adult it feels abusive. Which for me is a difficult thing to admit because tickling is supposed to be fun and happy and make people laugh. Hitting is abusive, screaming at a kid is abusive, there are a million horrible, awful, disgusting forms of abuse and yet here I am claiming that something that is supposed to be fun is abusive.

I can’t speak for anyone but myself, but what I can tell you is this. If you have a kid who hates being tickled, don’t tickle them. I know you don’t mean any harm by it. I know you just love hearing the sound of your kid’s laughter. But if they hate it, they aren’t laughing because they secretly like it. They are laughing because it’s involuntary, and they can’t catch their breath, and they can’t move because you are overpowering them, either by holding them down or making them laugh so they are having a difficult time moving, and inside they are panicking. As an adult, even though those around me are aware of my distain for being tickled, if I am even tickled by accident it’s enough to make me feel queasy. On occasion I will have nightmares about being tickled, the feeling of being held down, and wake with a start, terrified I have urinated in my sleep.

I know how polarizing it is to say that tickling is child abuse, but it is to a kid who hates it. And it did affect me, because I would have my dad with my sisters in a pile on the living room floor, wrestling and laughing and I was the sad girl on the sofa next to my mom, sucking my thumb and scared someone would pull me into the mix because I knew it would end up in a tickle fight. Even though no matter how much my own kid begs for me to tickle her I always cut it short because I worry that it will be the tickle that goes too far, that I won’t realize she isn’t laughing because she is enjoying it, but she is laughing so she doesn’t start crying.

(Image:Icanhazcheeseburger)

118 Comments

  1. Katherine Handcock

    June 25, 2014 at 12:07 pm

    Oh, Eve, I’m sorry. I totally agree about not tickling kids who don’t want it. We have a rule in our house that everything stops when someone says, “Stop” or “Ouch” or “No” for exactly this reason.

    There are actually many children’s sexuality experts who recommend tickling as a way to begin lessons about consent – which is to say, kids learn that if you are touching someone’s body and they don’t enjoy it or say “Stop,” that’s what you do. And you teach your kids that, when they want it to stop, they speak up — and that they shouldn’t say “Stop” if that’s not what they mean or want.

    • SunnyD847

      June 25, 2014 at 12:20 pm

      I know, I hate the thought that your kid is learning that they don’t have control over what happens to their own body. If the people who are supposed to love and protect them don’t listen when they say stop, why would they think an abuser would?

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    • keetakat

      June 25, 2014 at 1:10 pm

      Yes yes yes….so much yes! Being trapped, overpowered, having your body betray you, panic, fear… Lots of us know this feeling from things apart from tickling, as well. It is def time to have this conversation with my young children.

  2. CMP414

    June 25, 2014 at 12:13 pm

    My dad did the same thing and it was horrible! I remember screaming and not being able to breathe and he would keep it up no matter how hard I cried.I totally find that to be abusive. He was also abusive in other ways.My daughter loves being tickled but if she says “stop” we stop. She may be a 2 yr old but she is still her own person with her own rights.

  3. JenH1986

    June 25, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    I hated (and still hate) being tickled. My ex thought it was hysterical to tickle me (especially in public places). Until he caught an elbow to the nose “accidentally”.

    • kay

      June 25, 2014 at 2:20 pm

      i had several boyfriends in hs and college who thought it was funny. Until I accidentally kneed them in the balls.

    • JenH1986

      June 25, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      Oopsie!

    • anonymous

      June 25, 2014 at 3:33 pm

      it’s like you can’t help it though. Your body will do whatever it takes to make it stop.

    • anonymous

      June 25, 2014 at 3:33 pm

      Question for those with no tickle tolerance: I find now as an adult that I O so easily. You can look at me (or I can look at you) and Boom. And plentifully. Is it possible most tickle intolerants have hyper sensitive nerve endings?

    • Ives

      June 25, 2014 at 5:22 pm

      Possibly. Tickling hurts me. I don’t like when people tickle me, nor did I like it as a kid, because it physically hurts. When I tell people this, however, no one believes me. I dunno why it hurts, but I absolutely hate tickling and the fact that I laugh when tickled, because for whatever reason people are unable to comprehend that it’s not voluntary. Laughter doesn’t mean it doesn’t hurt ):

    • ChickenKira

      June 25, 2014 at 5:35 pm

      I KNOW WHAT YOU MEAN!
      Tickling hurts me. It really does hurt and my parents always said I was “being silly” when I said that but there’s that tickle sensation then it aches and it’s weird and I am sure it’s not meant to feel that way but it does.

      Fortunately my parents stopped tickling me to avoid the inevitable argument of whether tickling hurts or not. So it kind of worked out in the end.

    • anon

      June 25, 2014 at 5:49 pm

      I am the anon who asked and tickling literally hurts me too. I think it’s maybe too much sensation?

    • breakfastburrito

      June 25, 2014 at 6:01 pm

      I believe you. It hurts me too.

    • Jen

      June 26, 2014 at 1:34 pm

      For me it was about the loss of autonomy and feeling trapped and not about any hypersensitivity – yes, tickling would hurt but more because repeated fingers on skin in one area just does for the most average of nerve endings.

      But I can so see how hypersensitive nerves would take a bad thing and make it total torture.

  4. journalgal2

    June 25, 2014 at 12:16 pm

    My daughter likes to be tickled to a point. So we have a rule – if the person being tickled says stop, we stop right away. I figure this is a good way to introduce the concept of consent and boundaries when it comes to our own bodies.

    • noelle 02

      June 25, 2014 at 5:21 pm

      Yes, this. My youngest will yell stop, take 2 deep breaths, and say go but we listen every time.

  5. CanLeigh

    June 25, 2014 at 12:18 pm

    My son loves being tickled, but we have always had a safe word for when he is over it.

  6. Effervescent Pheasant

    June 25, 2014 at 12:22 pm

    I LOVE this article.
    I hate and I mean HATE being tickled. I used to have a aunt who thought it was so funny to grab and tickle me as a kid, as well as a sister and dad who all thought it hilarious as well and I felt completely helpless and ganged up on.
    I remember hoping that she wouldn’t come to family gatherings because I feared her and hated tickling that much. I’d even plan out how to get away from her or hide or try hard not to be noticed because if she started, my sister would try to chase me and hold me down. They’d do it until I’d cry then would laugh at me for being “a baby” NOT FUNNY at all.
    The fear I had, I never want to have my kids go through. I will casually tickle my boys or girls arm or leg lightly, but never will tickle for more then one little second unless then are begging me to (My daughter used to ask to be tickled…)
    It completely crosses the line to me to take tickling any further then the initial STOP by the child.

    • breakfastburrito

      June 25, 2014 at 6:00 pm

      It’s tough for those who like being ticked to understand why some people
      hate it, because the result is always laughter. Laughter is a good
      thing right?

      I hate being tickled too. But it’s not a good laugh
      for me. I feel physically paralyzed and can’t fight back. I feel like I
      can’t breathe, my laughter is really me, desperately trying to cry out. I
      can’t physically say “stop.”

  7. K.

    June 25, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    I’m so sorry that you had that experience, but I’m so glad you wrote the article, because it’s a perspective you don’t hear very often. I never minded being tickled so I admit I raised an eyebrow at “abuse” in the title, but I get it now. So thank you for enlightening me!

    Although…I have to say, I am so relieved my son (at least right now) loves to be tickled. You stop and he’ll say, “More! More!” and I love that.

    • JenH1986

      June 25, 2014 at 12:48 pm

      My friend noticed her kids would do that “stop” and then “again” so they actually implemented safe words. So when the kids are being serious and are truly upset they say “applesauce”. Because saying stop and again was confusing the younger kids and causing trouble.

    • K.

      June 25, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      That’s a good idea!…Although I can’t help but giggle at the idea of giving a kid a ‘safe word’ since that’s usually mommy and daddy’s thing!

      (my kid’s too little for the time being–still in the realm of communicating through dramatic physical gestures and mood swings, rather than words. he doesn’t know “stop” yet, but he’s pretty good at busting out wails and saying ‘no!’ and then like, swatting your hand/his plate of food/his toy/the phone, etc. away, if he doesn’t want something)

    • JenH1986

      June 25, 2014 at 2:24 pm

      I asked (while laughing) where mommy and daddy got “safe words” from. My friend and I talk about sex all the time (one of my favorite topics!) but her husband turned 9 shades of red! lol

  8. Lesleykc

    June 25, 2014 at 12:23 pm

    I completely agree with this. I loathe being tickled, always have. If my boyfriend tickles me, it prompts me to scream as loud as I possibly can and try to throw elbows and punches to get away. He thinks it’s hilarious that I have such a strong reaction to it, like I’m being cute, but I actually hate it enough to attempt to cause bodily harm to the tickler. It’s bizarre that people can’t listen to the word “stop” even in the most benign seeming of situations.

    • SunnyD847

      June 25, 2014 at 1:32 pm

      Have you told him how you feel? It’s not right for him to do this if he knows you really don’t like it, but he may not realize how much it bothers you. I used to pat my girls on the butt and they would protest but I’d say “you’re butt’s so cute, I can’t help myself.” One day my older girl looked at me and said “Mom, I REALLY don’t like that.” I felt terrible that I had not been respecting her body autonomy even though I tell them their bodies belong only to them. I apologized and stopped.

    • Jessifer

      June 25, 2014 at 2:29 pm

      Some of the most heated arguments I’ve had with my husband have been over this. Like I’m trying to get off the couch and he thinks it’s hilarious to hold onto me and not let me go. Or he does this thing where he drags his fingernail on the palm of my foot and the feeling is so nasty it makes me cringes, and he thinks it’s so so funny. One time I was so mad that I made him sleep on the couch and he got upset at ME for being a drama queen. I’ve explained to him that if he simply listened when I said “Stop” the first time, then it wouldn’t escalate to the point where I have to resort to extreme measures to make him understand how legitimately upset I am over it. I mean, I am a grown, educated, mature woman – why am I put in a position where I have to throw a temper tantrum like a toddler just to make myself clear? Honestly, I don’t know if people who do this will every truly realize how much it bothers the person they are doing it to. To them, it’s all a big joke.

    • mommabeer

      June 25, 2014 at 4:17 pm

      YES. My husband does a number of things that bother the shit out of me, but he just thinks is sooo cute and does them anyway. Like the fingernail on the bottom of the foot thing, and he touches my ears or my armpit which I frickin hate because it feels tickle-y and just so so so creepy and squicky. I tell him how much I hate it and he just laughs it off. And if I get upset, he makes me feel like I’m being stupid and childish. Ugh. Anyway, just glad I’m not the only one!

    • nats

      October 4, 2014 at 10:49 pm

      whats the fingernail on the bottom of the foot thing?

    • Shanzie

      June 25, 2014 at 10:17 pm

      WELL SAID.

    • Alanna Jorgensen

      June 25, 2014 at 11:39 pm

      I 100% sympathize with this. I HATE when people make you feel like you’re being unreasonable when asking them to respect your bodily autonomy. Just because it’s a joke to them does not mean that it is funny to the other person, and I am NOT obligated to find it as amusing as they do. That does not make me the one with the problem. I have often explained that saying “get over it” or “it’s just a fucking joke, jesus” are things that bullies say to make the person they are harassing feel like it is their fault for not being fun enough.

    • meteor_echo

      June 26, 2014 at 12:17 am

      I told my boyfriend that, if he ever does this shit to me, I’ll punch him in the balls. No. Problem. With this. Ever.

    • JL

      September 30, 2014 at 12:19 am

      There would not have been a conversation. My fist would have connected with his face after I said stop and he didn’t listen.

  9. Alex Lee

    June 25, 2014 at 12:27 pm

    This is how it usually goes down in my house:

    I’ll be on my bed with my iPad. My son will see me and announce to the whole house “Tickle Time!”. He and his sister then jump onto the bed, poking me, trying to get me to laugh.

    After a few minutes of this, I turn-the-tables and grab my son’s foot. He then calls to his sister for help at which time she immediately runs out of the room to watch something else on television – leaving him high and dry.

    THIS is what makes me laugh.

    It rarely goes farther than that, because nobody wants to ruin a good thing.

    • Wicked Prophet Kay Sue

      June 25, 2014 at 2:36 pm

      Reminds me of once when my husband and my older son were roughhousing, and the older yells to his younger brother, “Help me, bubba! Help me!” and my younger goes, “I can’t, I’m eating pancakes.”

      Priorities.

  10. guest

    June 25, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    Yeah, in our household we had a “Please stop” rule that if we were roughhousing (which usually involved wrestling moves my brother saw on WWE) whoever HAD to stop. We had way to many issues before where we got hurt because someone thought they were just being whiny and they were actually being hurt. This didn’t apply to parents though as I remember I pissed my dad off once and he held me down and pinched the back of my arms (tricep area that hurts super bad!) as hard as he could while I screamed bloody murder. I had dozens of bruises for weeks. My mom heard that and didn’t do anything, and then later saw the bruises and was like what is this? I almost slapped her across the face. Don’t play stupid with me. If your kid doesn’t like something and you are around YOU need to step in and stop it or you are just as much of a problem. I would never allow my spouse to do things to my kids (be it tickling, wrestling, whatever) after I said stop. Stop means you stop or I’ll hold YOU down and see how you like it. Literally even thinking about it gives me chills up my spine so I totally get why you still have such a strong reaction to it.

    • Tinyfaeri

      June 25, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      ok, pinching your child repeatedly is not an appropriate way to handle anything.

    • Guest

      June 25, 2014 at 5:13 pm

      Yeah, honestly didn’t teach me anything other than that is the worst pain I think I’ve ever felt in my life. I would have taken loads of spankings to avoid that.

    • Tinyfaeri

      June 25, 2014 at 6:02 pm

      I…got nothin’ except a hug for you.

  11. Jessifer

    June 25, 2014 at 12:31 pm

    I understand completely. My uncle was in his teens/early 20s when I was a kid and he used to do tickle me. Either that, or he’d hold me and not let me go even though I was screaming and crying trying to wrestle myself out of his arms, and he’d have a good laugh about it. Sometimes he’d even imitate me crying to make fun of me and say “Oh, this kid is always whining”… Well maybe I wouldn’t cry if you just left me alone!!! I hated it so much. It’s exactly like you say: the idea of someone overpowering you and feeling totally helpless to stop it. And not just that, but feeling like you are being mocked! My uncle is not a bad guy, he never molested me or anything like that, but I still harbor some resentment. The worst part was that my mom never did anything to stop it. Sometimes she’d even joke and say “If you don’t behave, I’m sending you to Uncle X’s house!” A few months ago I happened to talk to my mom about it and she was completely flabbergasted. She had no idea how much it had really bothered me.

    I sometimes see my husband teasing the cat and it reminds me of the whole thing. When I was pregnant, I warned him several times that I would not tolerate him doing that to our son and was met with “Come on, it’s not a big deal. Don’t be so melodramatic”. So far he has been okay but if i ever see him tickling our son to the point where he is crying, I am going to be furious.

    • Ives

      June 25, 2014 at 5:31 pm

      Sounds like a power trip by someone who got off on being in control of someone else ): That’s terrible.

  12. Neonstarr

    June 25, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    My older sister used to hold me down and tickle (or slap) me to get back at me for stuff, to the point where I would pee my pants (or cry). I hate being tickled. Hated the fact that my dad and Stepmum just laughed it off, oh you’re just being dramatic.

    • SunnyD847

      June 25, 2014 at 1:46 pm

      Did she make you hit yourself, too? “Why are you hitting yourself?” That was my brother’s specialty.

    • Neonstarr

      June 25, 2014 at 11:01 pm

      Haha yes. My favourite one is “not touching can’t get mad”

  13. guest

    June 25, 2014 at 12:36 pm

    I never liked being tickled and would throw jabs so people stopped right quick. I will occasionally tickle my husband because he is a large man and it is funny to watch but as soon as he says stop I stop. Thankfully as I’ve gotten older I’ve stopped being as ticklish, so if someone tries it I usually stare blankly at them. I now actually LOVE having my feet tickled whereas before you couldn’t even touch them.

  14. LadyClodia the Modest Rat

    June 25, 2014 at 12:37 pm

    I tickle my kids gently a little bit, but I only continue if they ask. I too was tickled involuntarily when I was little by my uncles and it was kind of traumatic. We had to take a change of clothes for me whenever we went to visit family because they would always tickle me until I wet myself. My parents just let it happen. I don’t want my kids to have to go through something like that.

  15. Jallun-Keatres

    June 25, 2014 at 12:39 pm

    I had a nightmare once that I did something wrong and my punishment was my mom tickling me. 🙁

  16. Kris

    June 25, 2014 at 12:50 pm

    This breaks my heart. I’m so sorry. It sounds like this traumatized you. At first when I read the article title I rolled my eyes and I’m sorry. I’m so glad I read this article. My husband hates being tickled as well. HE has memories of his aunts doing this to him and he has never been able to convey his thoughts as you have and now I feel like a horrible human being. I mean, I haven’t sat there and tickled him but I haven’t really taken him seriously about it either. Ugh. He gets a steak. Lol

    • Eve Vawter

      June 25, 2014 at 12:55 pm

      It’s not even that it traumatized me, and I sort of hated writing this because I know a gazillion people suffered real real really bad abuse, but for me it’s just something I have always hated and there’s such a weird sort of stigma with hating it, like a lot of people roll their eyes when I say DON’T TICKLE ME and make fun of me but it REALLY bothers me

    • Rachel Sea

      June 25, 2014 at 4:39 pm

      It’s stupid of them to roll their eyes, most of them probably have some touch than they cannot abide. My wife can’t stand being touched lightly, because it reminds her of spiders, I hate being touched by surprise, I have friends who don’t like being touched on their legs, or over their wrists because it feels violating or restraining, some don’t like being touched in particular ways by men or by women, and a lot of people (including me) are sensitive about touch on or near old injuries.

      I couldn’t be friends with someone who dismissed my physical autonomy. You can’t respect how I do or don’t like to be touched, I don’t trust you.

  17. lin

    June 25, 2014 at 12:52 pm

    I too HATE being tickled. It is abuse if it is unwanted and being forced by someone. I don’t tickle my kids, even though they like it. My husband can play that game with them!

  18. js argh

    June 25, 2014 at 12:57 pm

    If I’m totally honest, I read the headline and went, “Oh, come on.” But by the end of the article, I have to admit, I agreed with you, Eve.

    I, too, hated being tickled as a kid (AND as an adult). That feeling of being completely helpless and overpowered describes it exactly.

  19. keetakat

    June 25, 2014 at 1:01 pm

    Eve, I feel ya! I hated being tickled always… It never made me laugh, but scream… Scream like a bloody blood curdling blood scream, and how anyone could think that was funny is beyond me.

  20. Guinevere

    June 25, 2014 at 1:26 pm

    My husband and I both HATED being tickled. It’s really close on the “things that feel like rape” scale, as in, temporarily fearing for your bodily well-being, fight-or-flight-mode, etc. It is absolutely abuse. We will not give baby girl more than 2 kisses on the belly at any time. Husband had an Aunt that wouldn’t stop with the tickling when he was young. She tried it on him when he was 17 and he punched her. She is visiting for the first time in a few days. Must instill the “her body, her choice” ground rules for baby 🙂

  21. Jen

    June 25, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    I never really thought about it in this light, but tickling was a powerplay in my childhood house as well. Not ’til I wet myself (thankfully) but until I was old enough to fight back. Saying “stop” just got the “what did you say? what was that?” (*tickle harder so I couldn’t speak*) treatment so I fought to be able to keep my nails the length I wanted and USED them. By 4th grade I was the expert on nails-first attacks.

    And I don’t buy for a moment that tickling’s ‘harmless.’ Why do you think I tickled my younger sib so much? And I totally used the “he’s laughing!” line and no one bought it from me. Why would it be different when it’s an adult doing it to me?

  22. RobertLWilliams

    June 25, 2014 at 1:48 pm

    They liked being tickled.To this day I can’t tolerate being tickled, and I have almost given my own spouse a black eye by my knee-jerk freak-out reactions when someone tickles me. I cannot even have a pedicure. http://x.vu/hyLsq3

  23. Spiderpigmom

    June 25, 2014 at 2:02 pm

    I was also tickled until after I was begging to stop and found it horrible. I would say that the word abuse is too strong, though, and that it blurs the line of what constitutes actual abuse vs bad decision of otherwise well-meaning parents. However I grew up in a context that was clearly emotionally abusive, with elements of physical abuse too, and definitely tickling a child who does not want it t is part of not respecting this child’s bodily autonomy, so I may be wrong.

    Anyway — I make a point of stopping the tickling the second my son says “stop”, and I sometimes get unreasonably cross if my husband delays stopping for a few seconds, because clearly, I remember hating it and feeling violated.

    • Eve Vawter

      June 25, 2014 at 2:35 pm

      I see what you are saying but IMO anytime a kid cries and wets themselves it’s abuse

  24. Alicia Kiner

    June 25, 2014 at 2:27 pm

    I’m trying to teach my husband that when the kids scream stop, that he needs to stop. It’s usually wrestling games, and when they get “trapped” that they freak out a bit. He doesn’t understand that it can be scary as hell to not be able to move or get away, even if you know/trust/love the person holding you down. He tells me I’m overreacting, and I think he thinks I’m comparing what he’s doing with the kids with what I went through as a kid, and they’re not remotely the same. I KNOW he would never hurt them in any way, but I don’t feel comfortable with him doing this.

    • Alanna Jorgensen

      June 26, 2014 at 2:59 am

      I think part of the reason I am so ridiculously claustrophobic is that my dad used to do that exact thing when I was a kid and then get annoyed when I freaked out. If my chest or arms are restricted even a tiny bit I start to hyperventilate. My fiance cuddled me too tightly once and I panicked.

    • savethesnailsfrommorons

      September 12, 2014 at 2:26 pm

      He IS hurting them. You could perhaps get them to write down how it makes them feel when he does this. If he still doesn’t stop, threaten to divorce him.

  25. Obladi Oblada

    June 25, 2014 at 2:28 pm

    I’d sooner take a beating than be held down and tickled. My husband learned this the hard way when I reflexively came up swinging and nailed him a couple of times before I caught myself. I had told him and told him and he apparently didn’t believe me. He does now and doesn’t do it to our kids without their permission. Lesson learned.

    • Eve Vawter

      June 25, 2014 at 4:29 pm

      OMG me toooo I hear you

    • Obladi Oblada

      June 25, 2014 at 5:36 pm

      I have kind of a hair trigger anyway and I will beat an ass over being tickled. I hate it that much.

  26. SarahJesness

    June 25, 2014 at 2:31 pm

    I hate being tickled. I start kicking uncontrollably and then the person tickling me gets mad if they get kicked (on accident) but it’s like, don’t tickle me in the first place!

  27. Wicked Prophet Kay Sue

    June 25, 2014 at 2:34 pm

    We have a pretty strict “You must consent to being touched” policy. I’ve talked about it before–we ask our kids before hugs and kisses, and we don’t force them to show affection. Tickling is the same.

    I can’t stand being tickled. I am glad that in this area, my family really respected my boundaries growing up. My husband once, on one of our very first mornings waking up together while we were dating, ticked my foot playfully to wake me up, and I kicked him hard enough to send him flying over the bed.

    Respecting your kids’ boundaries is important. It’s easy to see them as extensions of ourselves, but they aren’t. They are their own little people, with their own wants, needs and comfort zones. It’s really critical to respect that.

  28. mel

    June 25, 2014 at 2:55 pm

    This is an interesting perspective to read about. I remember really hating being tickled so I stopped being ticklish. I was watching a kids TV show and someone on it said that they just stopped being ticklish and I just went ‘Oh you can do that’ so I stopped being ticklish then on. I would just put on a serious face when ever someone tickled me and they would stop because there was no reaction.

    On the other hand there was my brother who was so hilariously ticklish that I taught him to fall over laughing just by saying goochy goo and not even touching him.

    • anonymous

      June 25, 2014 at 5:56 pm

      That reminds me of someone I know who trained himself not to get motion sick. He was in the military and the things he did couldn’t have been done under the infl of dramamine.

  29. NYCNanny

    June 25, 2014 at 2:57 pm

    I honestly didn’t think mommyish could start a new controversial topic…but they cease to surprise. Oh this is getting insane.

    • Kelly

      June 25, 2014 at 4:00 pm

      It’s insane to suggest that people (including children) should be able to ask not to be touched and be respected?

      Is that really insane to you? Tell me, how would you react to another human being asking you not to tickle them? Do you have a good reason for refusing to respect that request?

    • guest

      June 25, 2014 at 4:09 pm

      I’ve kind of starting thinking that way myself lately, but wow, did Eve hit a nerve with this one! She is absolutely, dead on, right about this. I can only explain the way I felt as suffocation. That’s how it felt to me, like I was suffocating. Then panic sets in and no matter how much you cry or protest they just kept on. I never tickle my children, and when I would see someone else start to do it I would tell them to stop. I hated it, feared it even, and I would never want my children, or any children for that matter, to have to feel that way.

    • Rachel Sea

      June 25, 2014 at 4:50 pm

      It’s not new, and it’s not controversial. Bodily autonomy is bodily autonomy.

    • lin

      June 25, 2014 at 4:53 pm

      This doesn’t seem very controversial. Pretty much everyone is agreeing with the article. That would be the opposite of controversial…

  30. Maddy61501

    June 25, 2014 at 3:00 pm

    I completely understand how you feel. I had a boyfriend who would hold me down and tickle me until I couldn’t breath and was sobbing crying. He did it frequently. I still haven’t gotten over it and even the smallest amount of tickleing makes me freeze up and panic. It’s an awful feeling.

  31. Ro

    June 25, 2014 at 3:02 pm

    My Dad and older brother used to hold me down and tickle me. I would constantly have to explain that I wasn’t laughing because it was fun. They would also do things like poke me in the ribs while I was watching TV or sneaking up behind and poking me, making me feel like I was always on guard and couldn’t relax. To this day I can’t stand my husband walking up and touching me because I feel like I’m about to get poked.

    • Alanna Jorgensen

      June 26, 2014 at 2:56 am

      My guy is forever poking or messing with me when I’m just trying to relax. Then he gets offended when I get angry after asking him to stop several times. I get sensory overload extremely easily so being pushed on or poked or jarred when I’m trying to have some quiet time can get a pretty unpleasant reaction. Then I get told that I’m “no fun.” I’d be a lot more fun if you’d just let me relax in peace.

  32. Fallopian Twerker Phillips

    June 25, 2014 at 3:09 pm

    Yikes. I totally sympathize, Eve. I had a very similar issue with my step-grandfather, who I’d known since I was four. He was a very sweet man in every other way, but he used to hold me down and tickle me until I couldn’t breathe, and I would often pee my pants, as well. And as a result I fucking HATE to be tickled, and I won’t tickle others. Even now, I don’t like when anyone touches my neck or especially my underarms. I always warn a guy about the armpit thing very early on in a relationship, like, if we get physical, please don’t ever try to touch my armpit, because I really don’t like it and if you do it, I will bust you in the face, not because I want to hit you, it’s literally a reflex. There have been guys who didn’t take me seriously. Those guys wound up with black eyes (including an ex-boss, who was a skeevy perv and had it coming, anyway.).

    • Rachel Sea

      June 25, 2014 at 4:45 pm

      I was that way about my neck. I got strangled a few times as a kid, and learned to reflexively punch when anyone came at my throat. Some “friends” my freshman year of high school decided to test it, but stopped after I punched one of them in the ear. It took a long time to train myself to stop lashing out.

  33. janey

    June 25, 2014 at 3:30 pm

    Yes! Thank you! Tickling has always been like torture to me. When you’re a toddler, everyone thinks it’s cute and no one takes you seriously when you protest. If you cry, they just think you’re being ornery.

    Tickling is still torture to me. I won’t even tell people I am ticklish for fear they’ll think it’s funny and try to do it. And I can’t get pedicures.

  34. Emily

    June 25, 2014 at 3:32 pm

    I’ve almost broken a few friend’s wrists because of this. My cousins and father would hold me down and tickle me until I was a sobbing mess who peed my pants. I still hate being tickled or having my stomach, sides, or lower back touched. I can do it (massages or my GI doctor), but only when I want it.
    Now, whenever I have a kid that asks not to tickle them, I leave it right away and apologize so they know I’m seriously sorry.
    I didn’t know there were others who thought the same as me.

  35. wispy

    June 25, 2014 at 3:41 pm

    I second the nauseous feeling. I DESPISE being tickled. When my husband tries to tickle me I scream “I’m not laughing because it’s funny, I’m laughing as a sign of distress!!” I don’t even know where that line came from but it’s true. It’s so distressing. My husband accidentally touched my arm too lightly the other day and it tickled and he got elbowed in the nose, on accident, but still. Hopefully he learned his lesson.

  36. JerseyGirl227

    June 25, 2014 at 3:55 pm

    I HATE being tickled but just on my rib cage and just on the sides (weird) but have no memory of being abused by it (thankfully!) Sadly my best friend did not know this fact when she approached me from on a buffet line during a repast. She got an involuntary defensive elbow to the boob. Woops. Thankfully, she’s the best and said, “Ouch, so I guess you REALLY hate to be tickled.”

  37. Warren Pacholzuk

    June 25, 2014 at 4:10 pm

    Not in a million years is tickling abuse. So stop, grow up and get on with your life.

    • guest

      June 25, 2014 at 4:12 pm

      Well it would seem that the majority of people that have gone through it would disagree with you. Just sayin’.

    • Warren Pacholzuk

      June 30, 2014 at 9:18 am

      And they need to grow up. Tickling is not abuse. Give your head a shake. Stop blaming everyone for your the way you are and take control and responsibility for your life.

    • guest

      June 30, 2014 at 9:14 pm

      You don’t know me. Please don’t assume that you do. You have zero knowledge of who or what I blame for anything in my life. Now do everyone a favor and go back to the cave from which you shuffled from while the women folk weren’t looking.

    • Warren Pacholzuk

      June 30, 2014 at 9:28 pm

      Not assuming anything. Just taking all the evidence given, and making logical conclusions about your mental and emotional state.

    • guest

      July 1, 2014 at 2:09 am

      My comment-“Well it would seem that the majority of people that have gone through it would disagree with you. Just sayin’.” From that you are making LOGICAL conclusions about my mental and emotional state? I didn’t even say if I personally agreed or disagreed with the author or anyone else, I was just stating a fact according to the majority of commenters. That’s some magic board that you hang your psychiatric knowledge on.

    • Warren Pacholzuk

      July 3, 2014 at 2:04 pm

      And your follow up comment was more than enough proof of your issues needing resolution. Don’t need to be a shrink. Just need to know human behaviour, and that is a big part of my business and success.

    • Eve Vawter

      June 25, 2014 at 4:26 pm

      I have grown up and gotten on with it. It only affects me if someone tickles me, or someone I don’t know touches me, or the fact that I don’t get massages and I hate pedicures and I sometimes have nightmares. But yeah, you obviously know how people react to everything so um, awesome?

    • Warren Pacholzuk

      June 30, 2014 at 9:20 am

      Really dont give a rat’s ass how you react. Still does not make it abuse.
      My wife doesn’t like massages, or pedicures or being touched by strangers, and has extremely ticklish feet. But she is an adult, so she does not see tickling as abuse. Grow up.

    • Kelly

      June 25, 2014 at 5:25 pm

      It sure is. You don’t get to touch me without my consent. Kids can and should have that right too.

      There is no legitimate reason to need to tickle a person. It’s not like brushing a child’s hair or washing them. There’s no reason to say, “fuck your feelings!” when a child asks you not to touch them in that way and do it anyways. It’s unacceptable and it’s definitely abuse.

      Growing up does not negate the actions of an abuser. Neither does getting on with your life.

    • Warren Pacholzuk

      June 30, 2014 at 9:22 am

      Wow, you need some therapy, to deal with your issues. Just because you are a whiner and a drama queen, still does not make it abuse.

    • Alanna Jorgensen

      June 26, 2014 at 3:07 am

      I don’t like the overuse of the word bullying, but this is the exact thing that bullies say to shame the person they are bullying into not fighting back. I understand why people think it’s all in good fun, but why is it so hard to just apologize and stop doing it once you realize that the other person isn’t okay with it. Is it really so important to tickle another person until they urinate on themselves?

    • Warren Pacholzuk

      June 30, 2014 at 9:26 am

      If left up to this author, sneezing would be abusive.
      One other thing to think about as well. If you remove every possible adversity from childhood, then how the hell will they ever know how to deal with it as an adult?

  38. Frannie

    June 25, 2014 at 4:17 pm

    OMG, it’s like we have the same family. My dad and sister used to hold me down and tickled me until I peed my pants, too. I’d be in tears and they’d just laugh at me. I would beg them to stop and warn them I was going to have an accident, and still they never stopped. Then I’d get in trouble for having an accident. Maybe this explains why I’m not a touchy feely person now. I guess I’ve never really thought about it. Anyway, I just wanted to let you know you aren’t alone.

  39. Rachel Sea

    June 25, 2014 at 4:25 pm

    That’s awful. Laughing while being tickled is involuntary, it’s like having an orgasm while being raped.

    I like ticking to a point, and will tickle-fight friends’ kids, but watching their foreheads and eyes is vital, they tell the difference between having fun, and needing a break.

  40. tk88

    June 25, 2014 at 4:30 pm

    I do not think this is child abuse, but I think what was done to you definitely crossed over into abusive territory. It is most definitely a violation of the child’s body if they keep saying no but…as a blanket statement it’s a bit much. I think sometimes too many things get called abuse when real abuse is put into the “normal” or “discipline” category.

    • AP

      June 25, 2014 at 9:22 pm

      Agreed. Adults sometimes have to violate children’s autonomy, because children’s minds aren’t developed enough to make good decisions on their own, and they can be reluctant or unwilling to do what is best for them, because they do not have the ability to plan long-range.

      But to violate a child’s bodily autonomy for something unimportant- an adult wants to play a game- is wrong.

  41. Ives

    June 25, 2014 at 5:35 pm

    I have nightmares about tickling too. For me it’s that I’m being tickled, and trying to scream, but can only laugh and can’t get a proper scream out for them to stop or for help. Ugh. I hate being tickled, and always have, but for whatever reason when I was a kid people would roll their eyes at me when I would cry and beg them not to, because it hurt. I have never known anyone else to think that tickling physically hurts, so no one believed me. Sucks a lot :/

    • Alanna Jorgensen

      June 26, 2014 at 3:02 am

      It hurts me sometimes, as well.

    • Gangle

      June 26, 2014 at 3:25 am

      My dad was the same. When I tried to explain it to him he would always say ‘If it hurts/ you hate it so much then why are you laughing?’

  42. Gangle

    June 25, 2014 at 5:57 pm

    I hate being tickled. My dad, who could be pretty nuts at times, would hold me down and tickle me until I was a screaming, blubbery mess begging to be left alone. Then he would get angry and lecture ME for ‘ruining the fun for everyone’ and being a bad child and send me to my room. Now I have a hair-trigger reaction to tickles. Try it and I snap.

  43. RW

    June 25, 2014 at 6:21 pm

    I recall reading an article that explained how tickle torture is the perfect time to teach a child that “no means no,” Regardless of sex, it helps a child to learn that when they say “no, stop” those words will be and are to be respected, even if they are said in jest, because there should be no such thing as “you don’t really mean it.” If a child says “stop” and when you do they beg you to continue, that’s all well and good that it’s part of the game. But tickling them to the point of peeing themselves or puking is torment.

  44. Stacy Shain

    June 25, 2014 at 6:26 pm

    OMG! My uncle did that to me, and they have videos of me crying and screaming the whole time. I hate him to this day, and I remembered the scared feeling, and being held down ,and it really made me flipped out.I am glad everyone thought it was funny. wtf is wrong with people….

  45. Smalls

    June 25, 2014 at 7:36 pm

    Thank you for this, Eve. I have never looked at it from a perspective of consent before. My husband hates to be tickled due to similar childhood experiences. I apologized to him for not taking him seriously.

  46. rhondaschneider

    June 25, 2014 at 8:45 pm

    Eve, a similar thing happened to me. Growing up I had a sadistic uncle who trapped me betwween his knees and ticked me. I would beg him to sttop, but he would say “If you didn’t want me to do it you wouldn’t be laughing. I remembr throing up at least once. Where were my parents? I wish I knew, since I know that at least one and maybe both of them were in the house while this was happening. I once broke up with a boyfriend who knew I didn’t want to be tickled but persisted in doing it.

    I is abuse when the child doesn’t want it. We both have the right to be angry about what happened

  47. Aldonza

    June 25, 2014 at 8:51 pm

    I used to get tickled as a child and I hated it. I couldn’t breathe and I would start crying and would beg people to stop. It was really traumatic because people don’t believe you when you say, “No, seriously, do not tickle me”. I learned the only way to get people to stop tickling me was to physically lash out, so I would hit, kick and head butt. When I first started dating my (now) husband, he didn’t take it seriously until he grabbed my sides to tickle me, and on reflex I punched him in the nose. Thankfully, that put the tickling to rest. Some kids genuinely do not like it and continuing to do something to their body when they tell you to stop is teaching them they don’t have power over their own body.

  48. Alanna Jorgensen

    June 25, 2014 at 9:54 pm

    I abhor being tickled. I panic and get violent if someone holds me down to do it because I am HIGHLY claustrophobic and everything about being tickled triggers it. I don’t so much mind if it’s a little tickle or poke, but if you hold me down and don’t stop I will stop you any way I can, up to and including hitting you with the nearest hard object.

  49. Liz

    June 26, 2014 at 2:27 am

    I’m really really glad to read this article.

    I was abused, sexually, as a child. One of my ticklish areas happens to be an area that it is extremely triggering to have touched in certain ways (usually anything unexpected, but tickling does it too). My parents didn’t know about it, but the fact that I would quite literally be screaming and thrashing and physically lashing out… I seriously don’t understand why anyone thinks they can touch a kid in a way that makes them scream and that it’s still in good fun.

    No one should have to be touched against their will, touched in a way that upsets them. It being “in good fun” almost makes it worse.

  50. jenstar

    June 26, 2014 at 4:31 am

    Christ yes tickling is a form of torture when taken too far.. Your poor thing, that is absolutely abuse. I’m not surprised you’re still messed up from it.

    I think it’s very important for children to be safe in the knowledge that no means no, it’s vital not just for their own sense of security but also to teach them how to respect others. Tickle away, just stop when they say no. ALWAYS. So important.

  51. Byron

    June 26, 2014 at 8:58 am

    I always was thick skinned. The only parts I would be ticklish at would be the soles of my feet really. I do like doing the tickling however cause the reaction is adorable. I never heard of someone actually hating it this much though. I loved tickling people who were extra ticklish, like my mom would almost jump from a simple pinch to her side. I’ll have to keep in mind to always make sure I’m not overdoing it I guess.

  52. JustJ1970

    June 26, 2014 at 9:19 am

    Hell. YES. Everything you said. My ex-husband used to hold me down and tickle me until I couldn’t breathe, and when I finally got loose I would scream and curse at him and hurl any movable object at his head. I hate it that much, too. My kids love it but I rarely tickle them even when they beg me to do it because of how much I hate it. Good comment below about using tickling as a way to illustrate consent.

  53. Buffy

    June 26, 2014 at 12:09 pm

    Yes, my sister was already a grown up when I was 4 and she used to tickle me til I cried, peed, whatever.
    This article brought the feelings back. One of the first things we taught our daughter is that her body belongs to her and nobody is allowed to touch ver against her will.
    Aaaaaand she loves being tickled and is always begging for more, more, more.;-)

  54. anonymous

    August 13, 2014 at 7:57 pm

    I had a similar experience, and also hate/ am terrified to be tickled. I had gone over to a friend’s house (I was about 7), and her dad was there. He tickled her, but then decided to tickle me, chasing me all over their house, until he cornered me on my friend’s bed and tickled me relentlessly until I wet my pants. All the while, I had been screaming “Stop, stop, stop!” It was one of the scariest things that happened to me as a child because I couldn’t get him to stop tickling me–not by asking, screaming, or even kicking him.
    I asked to call my parents to bring me new pants, but they just took me home. Thankfully I had good parents that refused to let me go back to my friend’s house if her dad was going to be there. My parents also talked to parents of other girls that had been to this friend’s house and said that the dad had creeped them out as well, doing things like demanding hugs from girls, etc.
    To this day (I’m 18 now) I am terrified of being tickled, or having any sort of unwanted touch. Even going to the doctor, where they have to poke and prod you, is a cause for me to get a stomach ache and have a poor night’s sleep due to anxiety. I have a tendency to hit or kick people if they poke me in the side, and if they won’t stop, I have cried (not the laughing-so-hard-I’m-crying laugh, either). Please, if anyone tells you “Stop,” listen to them! It is NOT okay to force your strength on someone else, even if you mean no harm. It has lasting effects on people, especially children.

  55. JL

    September 30, 2014 at 12:12 am

    My mom used to hold me down. Arms above my head with one hand and tickle me with the other. I begged to stopped. I cried, tears streaming to stop. She kept going for I guess minutes that seemed like hours. Please mom no. She kept going. There was always a certain time when no one else was in the house. When it was quiet and there were no chores to do, I always dreaded the possibility. It usually ended when I vomited or peed myself. After which she was disgusted and demanded to know what was wrong with me…she was just playing. The worst part I remember is not being able to breathe. That was terrifying. I gave over to the fact I may die, and hoped she would see the error of her ways if it happened. No one can touch me unexpected, even in a friendly way without serious anxiety. I feel the sympathetic fight or flight response and have to resist punching my friends or boyfriends. Actually I have punched a couple of boyfriends when I was asleep. I was unconscious and not in control. Tickling can be a form of torture. She added humiliation. Whenever we would go somewhere or someone would come over (my school, her friends) she would say “watch this” and poke me in the ribs, to which I reacted by jumping away. Hugging her was awful because it brought out the fight or flight response. As a teenager she held me down to hug me as several adults watched in horror. Who would do that to someone that was obviously uncomfortable? I was lying on the floor as she wrestled on top of me, looking at their horrified faces. I knew it was wrong, pushed her off and kicker her right in the gut. She never did it again thank god. 4- 14yrs. Long Long time of control and humiliation. I hate her to this day.

  56. donna kay

    November 20, 2020 at 10:06 am

    Laughter is a INVOLUNTARY RESPONSE to tickling. It does not mean you like it or enjoy it and I wish people would learn this. Ticklers are stupid!!! They move in the moment they realize someone is ticklish. They would NEVER do this for any other reason, but tickle = laughter = fun in their stupid heads.

    Dad had a friend who was a tickler. We cried when we knew he was coming over. We would ALWAYS be so sore the next day it hurt to breathe. I got away once, ran in my room and hid under my bed. He followed me -a five year old – through the house, dragged me out and carried me back to the living room for more. WOULD ANY PARENT LET A MAN GO TO THEIR FEMALE CHILD’S BEDROOM FOR ANY OTHER REASON??? Tickle = okay to them. I hope he is frying in hell somewhere.

    I dumped a guy who liked to sneak up behind me, gran me around the waist and hold me off my feet. The third time he decided to add tickling to the game. I blacked his eye with my elbow and threw his ass out for good!

  57. www.xmc.pl

    December 24, 2020 at 6:30 am

    Great site dude! Been searching for a site like this.

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