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Question
Posted by: Lani | 2011/02/07

Child behavior

I cought my son (6) yesterday standing on his knees beside his brother (11months) busy with is private parts. When I got closer I saw the little ones private part exposed on the side of his nappy. I think I handled this very wrong, I was beside myself. He said he did not do anything, and dont want to talk about this. Why is he doing this. I am so afraid and dont know what to do or to whom I can speek. Can you please help me

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Our expert says:
Expert ImageCyberShrink

Of course, getting beside oneself is rarely a helpful response, even if understandable. But, even if such exploration didn't happen in yourchildhood, it is extremely common among kids. Kids are curious. They're built that way. And as adults are usually very secretive about sex and bodies, kids can get a bit ingenious in trying to check out how other people are made and structured.
I wonder exactly what you feel so afraid of ? He is not seeking to harm the younger child, or to engage in overt sexual activity - he was looking. And the more we behave as though even looking is a terrible thing to do, the more curious a child may be about what this great mystery is.
Purple's response is just right - calm, and correct. The younger child would be unable to remember such an event - nor even your appalled reaction to it, and will not be harmed or bothered.
Calm down, and maybe read up a bit about sex, to be able to get into the natural and helpful chats with the child, such as Purple describes.
Purple's story about her experience this morning is excellent - not only well handled, but typical - curiosity satisfied, the kid went off to play with his toy truck.
I so much agree that it is essential to work with curiosity, and not to teach, deliberately or accidentally, that the body and sex is filthy and dangerous. That doesn't protect kids, but can indeed be lastingly bothersome for them. And I also strongly agree that one of the primary lessons to teach is about respect for privacy, one's own and that of others.

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3
Our users say:
Posted by: Lani | 2011/02/07

Thanks, I will try to calm down and handle this matter as you said. Thanks for your response, I appreciate it.

Reply to Lani
Posted by: Purple | 2011/02/07

Between about 5 and 6, children become very fascinated with all the bits and pieces that are hidden (and parents over reaction). Your sons interest was normal, healthy curiosity and did not have a sexual undertone to it (your thoughts did though).

You need to explain to your son that although he is intersted, he can have a good look at his own bits in the bathroom or in his room with the door closed, but that its not OK to touch anyone elses or to let anyone else touch his.
Now is a good time for the talk about body space and privacy and respecting others and ourselves etc.

Your 11 month old will not remember this incident, so don''t worry about that.

Try and keep the subject open and answer questions as they occur - and try and have answers ready for the kinds you can expect (how do babies get out of their mothers, how do they get in there in the first place etc). I had to explain menstruation to my 7 year old son this morning. I''m pregnant and he noticed I no longer had tampons in the bathroom and asked what they were actually for - so I told him that when a lady is not growing a baby, the lining of her womb comes out and its full of blood and she uses those to soak it up. He then asked if you put it in your bottom (not quite so politely though), so I said no, in your vagina and he asked if it was in the spot the wee came out and I said no, it was in the tube the baby came out of. He then ran off to play with a toy truck.
What I find works is just to give a simple and answer (though truthful) and they will ask more questions if they want to know more.

Don''t make normal curiosity about the body into something shameful or dirty - it really isn''t, however, respect for privacy and ones own body and others is important.

Reply to Purple
Posted by: cybershrink | 2011/02/07

Of course, getting beside oneself is rarely a helpful response, even if understandable. But, even if such exploration didn't happen in yourchildhood, it is extremely common among kids. Kids are curious. They're built that way. And as adults are usually very secretive about sex and bodies, kids can get a bit ingenious in trying to check out how other people are made and structured.
I wonder exactly what you feel so afraid of ? He is not seeking to harm the younger child, or to engage in overt sexual activity - he was looking. And the more we behave as though even looking is a terrible thing to do, the more curious a child may be about what this great mystery is.
Purple's response is just right - calm, and correct. The younger child would be unable to remember such an event - nor even your appalled reaction to it, and will not be harmed or bothered.
Calm down, and maybe read up a bit about sex, to be able to get into the natural and helpful chats with the child, such as Purple describes.
Purple's story about her experience this morning is excellent - not only well handled, but typical - curiosity satisfied, the kid went off to play with his toy truck.
I so much agree that it is essential to work with curiosity, and not to teach, deliberately or accidentally, that the body and sex is filthy and dangerous. That doesn't protect kids, but can indeed be lastingly bothersome for them. And I also strongly agree that one of the primary lessons to teach is about respect for privacy, one's own and that of others.

Reply to cybershrink

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