So my son has been having some issues with sexual curiosity, and I am not sure exactly if this is normal or not. I'd like to hear from other parents of kids 4-6 or so, particularly parents with 4-6 yo boys, about what their kids have done at this age.
My son did have some abuse at age two that involved the genital area, but it seemed to be more physical abuse (meant to hurt him) than sexual, but I don't know for sure. This happened at a daycare and was possibly going on for a few weeks, though there was one incident that was serious and was what led to me discovering this abuse, reporting it, and obviously removing him from this daycare! I know he doesn't probably remember this, or it's at least stored away, but I know it's in his body and subconscious.
The first incidents of looking and touching started at a preschool when he was about 3 with other kids his age. The caregivers weren't apparently watching them closely enough, as the kids were going into the bathroom in groups of 3-4. My son told me that one child was directing the play by asking other kids, both boys and girls, to pull down their pants. Was concerned me about this was that my son said the other little boy was saying things about putting his mouth on other boys' penises and putting penises into bottoms, though I don't think any of these things were attempted. This didn't seem like normal curiosity, and I was worried that maybe this other boy was being abused himself. I talked to the director of the preschool immediately, and she made sure that the kids were no longer allowed to go to the bathroom in groups. I can't remember exactly, but I think this happened once or twice, and that was the end of it.
A few months into kindergarten, my son came home and said another little boy had been looking at his penis in the bathroom and asking my son to look at his penis, and that this happened a few times. It seems like it was looking and no touching. I figured this was fairly normal, but I talked to the other boy's mom (who was horrified!) and my son's teacher. She talked to both boys at school about keeping your body private, but the teacher said this is very normal also, and I agree.
A few weeks later my son told me that he pulled down the pants of one of the girls in his class and asked another girl to pull down her pants, and then he pulled his pants down.
Then my son told me he was in the bathroom with 5-6 kids, both boys and one girl, in the boys bathroom during recess, and that they were all pulling down their pants and looking at each other's penises. He also said that they were asking the girl to pull down her pants and trying to talk her into it. This made me a little more concerned because I didn't want the girl to feel like she was being coerced by 4-5 boys. I was also obviously concerned that the kids weren't being supervised, so I actually went to the principal about this one. My son's teacher took all of the kids mentioned and talked to them in a group, and she said all of the kids expressed shock and surprise about what my son had said, and said, "I DIDN'T DO THAT!" My son then told the teacher he had lied, and he doesn't really lie ever, and she talked to me about this when I came to get my son. This was sort of embarrassing as I made a big deal about it, but whatever. However, the incident with the two girls and my son pulling down the one girl's pants DID happen.
With Friend's Daughter:
Finally, a few nights ago I went to an indoor play place with my friend and her 7-year-old daughter. They are about two years apart as my son is five, so he's the younger one. This is a woman I really like because she's a single mom, like me, and our kids like each other, and we both have kids with behavioral issues, so we can really relate to each other. The kids had a great time playing, and we had a great time talking, but as we were leaving, my son said, "Mom, I am sorry, but I pulled down my pants and asked Alex to pull down her pants in the play structure." I told him that that was not ok, but I said thank you for telling me, and then emphasized that this behavior was not something he should be doing and could upset other kids' parents. He kept saying he was sorry.
My friend called me late that night and left a voicemail saying her daughter said the same thing my son had told me, and said, "I don't know what we are going to do about this, because this is not ok with me." She did say that my son asked her daughter to "touch his butt hole," but when I asked my son about this, he said he only asked her to touch his bottom on the side. I texted back the next morning and said it wasn't ok with me either, but that I think this is normal curiosity for kids, and that we should talk to them about it. I also called and left two voicemails saying I was happy to talk about the incident if she would like.
This has been a few days ago, and she has not responded to my voicemails or texts, and we usually talk and text a few times per day! She also sent me a text that she wouldn't be coming to my birthday party this weekend, which she had been planning to do. It looks like she is simply dumping me as a friend because of this, which I find a little shocking. After all, my son is only five. It's not like he's 12 and her daughter is 5 and he was molesting her. And there was no touching going on, just looking! While my son did ask her daughter to pull down her pants, she could have said no. It seems like her daughter participated willingly in what happened. I just don't quite get her reaction.
So, this is upsetting to me. On the one hand, I think my friend's reaction is a little over the top. My son is five; he's not a child molester. I think that his attitude is more of "This is funny. Ha ha ha. Touch my butt!" and I don't think it's sexual at all. I think to him it's simply curiosity and humor based.
I don't want him to feel shame, but I do want him to stop. It seems like he is a little fixated, and like he's not controlling himself well, even though he knows he should not be doing this. I have repeatedly emphasized to my son that I know he's curious, and that is normal, but that he must keep his body and other people's bodies private.
I am curious about whether other parents have had similar experiences with kids of this age repeatedly checking out other kids' bodies. Is this normal? Is it normal that he keeps doing it even when several people (me, teachers) have asked him to stop? What do you think?
To be clear, we have sought therapy for my son's issues, and my son has been in therapy since he was about 2 1/2. My son's therapist seems to think this is somewhat normal and just says to tell him his body is private, but I am concerned that this is now affecting my relationship with friends and his relationships with our friends too.
Edited by Bisou - 12/3/10 at 10:30pm