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My 4.5 year old son and 2.5 year old daughter were playing very nicely and quietly one afternoon while I was cleaning the house. When I checked on them after a while, I saw that the door to the room was shut and when I tried to open it, my son said, ''don't come in until I say it's okay.'' Thinking it was a game, I went along with it and opened it after he okayed it (10 seconds later) and saw that my daughter's shorts were pulled up haphazardly. I asked if her pants were off and she said that they were- she and he both denied that there was any touching of private parts- my son said that they were playing ''doctor'' but wouldn't say exactly what he meant. He did say that he learned about it from playing it with other kids at preschool. Other than giving them very clear messages about it NOT being okay to ask the other to remove clothing or to touch one another's private parts, for them to know it is not okay for ANYONE aside from themselves to touch there and for me to inquire the teachers about what is going on at school- would you do anything else regarding this sexual exploration type of play? Has anyone else encountered anything like this in this age range? Concerned Mom
My 7-mo old daughter has a habit of grabbing her labia during diaper changes. We've had several diaper rashes in the past, but this doesn't seem to be the cause as I don't see a rash currently. This habit is very frustrating for me because she sometimes gets poop on her hand! I've tried giving her toys (rotating every few days so she doesn't get bored), holding her hands, and saying NO firmly...all to no avail. Does anyone have experience with this? I'm going to call our pediatrician to get her advice and to rule out any medical problem. Any additional advice would be much appreciated. Thanks!
Our daughter has recently begun to put her fingers in her private parts every time we are changing her diaper. She also puts her fingers in her mouth afterwards. We at first thought this was just curiousity but have recently begun to think there might be a bad influence causing this. She has started playschool a couple of months ago and we are wondering if it is the childcare provider that is playing some sort of games with her. It is our first child so we do not have anything to compare it to. Have any other parents had any similar experiences? She also keeps touching her motherís breast and then looking for some kind of a reaction from her mother. Does anyone think this is strange or is it normal? berkeley parent
Babies are learning all the time and exploring new things, new feelings....wow...they have a body and if they touch something there's a sensation, and WOW...this part feels really good!!! As far as hands in mouth...babies put their hands in their mouth a lot. I doubt that she considers where her hand has been before going into the mouth (it could have been in a sand box or petting the dog or cat).
When she gets old enough to understand, you can teach her that touching her privates is something she can do when she's by herself but not in public (my opinion). mom of normal kids who did the same thing
I've seen it frequently in many children, including even 3 year olds, on the playground. Some seem to do it more, others less. My own daughter (now 2.5) is very keen on playing with my breasts and nipples, but I don't like it at all (she's not gentle to start with) and I have to very frequently put her hand away or ask her to do it. She's very persistent it that, a bit annoying for me, it's become a struggle. Herself she doesn't touch so often. When she does, and I don't comment on that. That all said, if you have the feeling there's something wrong with her daycare, try to find out more. As a firrst step, can you talk to other parents in the daycare?
As to the hygenical concerns, that's a good point. Not that much a kid spreading his own germs and bacteria from one body part to another, but one kid transmitting them to another kid. It has been studied in daycare centers (video tapes). They observed, kids simply put their hands in their diapers, and they touch toys themselves and other kids afterwoods. What can we do about that? I don't know... Regular hand washing, especially routinely before meals certainly helps a lot. And giving the children healthy food, exercise, sun and fresh air to support the immune system. Julia
Please explore other avenues before pointing the finger at someone. That's dangerous territory... also, if you have a history of reporting people, no one will ever wnat you in thier school, further making it difficult for you to place you child anywhere in the future.
Why not speak to other parents at the same school first. Maybe bring your child to her doctor for an exam. Also, you might want a therapist referral to find out if there's something in her actions that says something about your initial concerns.
But, like I said, some kids just like to touch themselves. We are ALL sexual beings and for some it starts earlier with pure unadulterated and flamboyant curiousity and for others it takes years and years of shyness and quiet exploration.
Please tread carefully.... as this is a very touchy subject.
The thing to watch out for is poopy fingers going in the mouth. Now, that's nasty. Sara
My 5-yr-old son is commenting on the differences between his genitals and our daughters, who is 2 1/2. My dilemma is that I noticed him sneak behind the recliner and call her over after she'd just gotten out of the bath (still naked) and was he clearly wanting to investigate. I created a distraction and I'm watching them like a hawk until I figure out how to proceed here. I know it's natural for him to be interested in how the female body is different and what it's all about, and I'm seeing the signs that I need to educate him in some way given his interest.
I know exploration at a certain age is normal, but being a first-time parent I need some guidance on a few things. How can I make absolutely certain to avoid any risk of my daughter becoming his research subject? I don't want to have to continue watching them like a hawk, and I don't want to forbid him from acting on his curiousities because that's likely to make him more interested, more sneaky, or make him feel bad about himself.
Does anyone have any advice about how to think about this and/or how to handle it? What books might I be able to read or show him? One friend told her kids that exploring was perfectly fine and normal as long as a)the person was the same age and equally interested and comfortable participating, b)the person was not a sibling, c)it was done in private, and d)there was no pentration of any kind. So far that's the only suggestion I've gotten and the thought of actually endorsing his pursuits competely freaks me out but I really want to set my insecurities aside and do the right things as a parent. I'm really hoping to get some perspective and some direction! Anything will help! Thank you!
If I were you, I would put them both in the bathtub and be very low-key about it. If you see him looking at a part of her body, you could say, ''Amy's body is different than yours, isn't it? You have a penis and she has a vulva.'' (You could teach him about the vagina part too if you want to go into more detail, but that is not what he is looking at--unfortunately, that's what everyone seems to be teaching their kids, but it is anatomically incorrect and they are being misinformed.)
Your kids are so young, this is the perfect time for them to learn about the human body without having to involve the sexual element yet. Later, your son will need to be more private and the opportunity to learn about the female body in such an easy way won't be there. I think you should definitely be around to answer questions (don't just let him inspect or poke around another child's body unsupervised). Your daughter will learn from this as well! Elizabeth
Where they get confused is all this negotiation. Young kids don't think the way we do. They don't understand gray areas. They prefer black and white.
If there's one area where strict, unwavering rules are absolutely neccesary, it's regarding touching. anon
Hi, I have a 6 year old daughter who contunues to initiate playing ''doctor'' type games that involve touching other kid's genitals. We have had problems over this last year where the parents of her friends have made a pretty big deal about it. We have had conversations with her about this letting her know it's ok for her to touch herself in private (and have defined what ''private'' means etc.), but not with her friends and especially not touching. We have all agreed to have them keep there clothes on etc. while playing. Last night while visiting, my friend put all of the kids in the bath together. They were once again caught ''playing'' with each other. Are we making too big a deal about this? Should we make a bigger deal of it? I can tell my friend feels really uncomfortable about this. Initially I felt it was natural and the kid's would lose interest in time but my friends think that crossing the line into touching is an actual sexual act because it causes pleasure and therefore is not ok. I tend to agree but don't know for sure. The questions is what is the definition of ''playing doctor''? All of the books say ''playing doctor'' is ok and natural. I would assume it involves some touching and that kid's don't think of it as a sexual thing but more of a curious thing. I don't know and am clearly confused on what is appropriate or inappropriate. Sorry for being so wordy and thanks for any and all advice. Concerned mom
However, six years old is too old to be sharing baths with friends, especially for a kid who has trouble setting limits on her own. My advice is to keep emphasizing the message, but keep her out of temptation's way. No co-bathing; separate beds at sleepovers; and generally keep an eye on the kids when they play together.
Setting limits for her in a loving and watchful way will help her to learn to set limits for herself. It will also help her to learn to set limits with others when her own body is the object of interest. It sounds to me like you're already on your way. Letitia
I'm not sure if I did the right thing when yesterday I walked
into my 7 year old daughter's room and found her on the floor
naked from the waist down playing with her Barbies. I asked her
what she was doing and she started crying. I believe she was
exploring her gentalia with her Barbie dolls. I told her that
wanting to explore herself was very normal, that she should only
use her hands/fingers to explore and that using another object
might injure her. She was quite upset/embarrassed and didn't
want to talk about it any further. I did tell her that if she
had any questions she could ask me anything but she just clammed
up. Did I handle this correctly? Is this normal for a child so
young? I'd love to hear from anyone with a similar experience.
A concerned mom
Our 6.5 year old recently told us that her brother (our 2.5 yr old) said it was okay to touch his penis, so she can let him touch her vagina. While we don't want to shut down curiousity, this doesn't sit well with us. We're tempted to talk with her about ''private parts'' and not letting anyone touch her there. How have others handled this situation? anonymous
I have always been strict about manners, but have made it very clear that she can be as rude and defiant as she wants to anyone who touches her privates. I frequently repeat the converstaion. Her pediatrician told me it is important to make it a common conversation, otherwise kids can forget.
The best protection you can give your child from sexual abuse is to inform them of their rights to their bodies! Otherwise, they don't know what is O.K. for people to do or not. Most types of sexual abuse are inflicted on children by people they know and are comfortable with and if you don't make it clear to them that NO ONE has the right to play with or explore their bodies they won't have a clue.
Children become very exploratory around age 4-5 and it is important that they understand that it is not O.K. to explore on other people/ children. I know there are people who believe that exploration is natural and innocent, but without boundries anything can get out of hand. I think that with a boy and girl on your hands you should start teaching them about respecting each other's bodies at an early age. You don't have to make it sound evil or bad, I took more of a respect approach: respect for your body and those of others.
We also practiced how to say no in scenerios, this is also agood idea to do when teaching them not to go off with strangers. It is important that they get a chance to practice a behavior.
Good luck! I know it may be a hard thing for some to discuss. I got over my shyness quickly, you will too. It has to be something your child can feel comfortable discussing with you if you expect them to be able to come to you later should something arise. Marcela
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