kids playing "doctor" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 17 Old 05-10-2009, 02:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have this pit in my stomach because this morning, for the second time, I found my 5 year old son and his best friend, another 5 year old boy, playing doctor. It seems to involve one touching the other's penis with some kind of toy or with their hand in a "doctor glove". I have not gotten angry with them or scolded them, but tried to gently explain that they are only supposed to touch their own penises. Of course, inside, my heart is racing and I'm very bothered by it. All I can think about it is that this is his first kind of "sexual experience", and I am not comfortable with that! I know they are innocent and curious especially since boys seem obsessed with their own penises. When I have had conversations with my son afterwards, he is very honest with me about what they were doing and says he understands that they are not supposed to play that game anymore. But what should I do??? Anything else?? How do I get over the feeling I have and do you have any other advice?? Thank you.
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#2 of 17 Old 05-10-2009, 02:31 PM
 
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I recently had my daughter drop her skirt so my son could play doctor like they saw the docs doing to me during my pre-natal appointments (they had to attend since DH was out of town and they saw everything....although I'm not ashamed) and what they knew about my c-section. So after checking my daughter's vagina, my son cut her open with a play kitchen knife (kind of humorous at the same time). So I went and bought them a doctor kit, and played doctor with them how I would like them to play. I go in as a patient with many different problems, but avoid the genital area complaints. As for teaching them to only touch their own penises, that's about as far as we go too, so no more advice then playing with them how you want them to play with eachother!!
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#3 of 17 Old 05-10-2009, 02:42 PM
 
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It sounds like you did fine

Even though it's not the best thing to think about, it's not the worse either..

(sorry I didn't have any real advice- some other mamas might hop in too)

Oh, I like the idea of 'showing' them different ways to play They could practice being Podiatrists by rubbing your feet

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#4 of 17 Old 05-10-2009, 02:48 PM
 
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I recently had my daughter drop her skirt so my son could play doctor like they saw the docs doing to me during my pre-natal appointments (they had to attend since DH was out of town and they saw everything....although I'm not ashamed) and what they knew about my c-section. So after checking my daughter's vagina, my son cut her open with a play kitchen knife (kind of humorous at the same time). So I went and bought them a doctor kit, and played doctor with them how I would like them to play. I go in as a patient with many different problems, but avoid the genital area complaints. As for teaching them to only touch their own penises, that's about as far as we go too, so no more advice then playing with them how you want them to play with eachother!!
You had your son "check" your dd's vulva? Really?
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#5 of 17 Old 05-10-2009, 02:57 PM
 
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Originally Posted by SunshineSwirl View Post
I recently had my daughter drop her skirt so my son could play doctor like they saw the docs doing to me during my pre-natal appointments (they had to attend since DH was out of town and they saw everything....although I'm not ashamed) and what they knew about my c-section. So after checking my daughter's vagina, my son cut her open with a play kitchen knife (kind of humorous at the same time). So I went and bought them a doctor kit, and played doctor with them how I would like them to play. I go in as a patient with many different problems, but avoid the genital area complaints. As for teaching them to only touch their own penises, that's about as far as we go too, so no more advice then playing with them how you want them to play with eachother!!
wait.. I just read that over.. Did you mean that you asked her to drop her skirt so your son could play or that you looked over, she had dropped her skirt (already) and your son was checking her vagina? How involved were you in this game?

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#6 of 17 Old 05-10-2009, 03:02 PM
 
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You had your son "check" your dd's vulva? Really?
umm yeah that ^^...

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#7 of 17 Old 05-10-2009, 03:17 PM
 
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i interpreted sunshineswirl's post that "she had this scenario happen" not like she was directing her son to do it.

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#8 of 17 Old 05-10-2009, 03:18 PM
 
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and that in response to having that scenario happen, she went out and bought a doctor kit and redirected them to more appropriate doctor play

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#9 of 17 Old 05-10-2009, 03:28 PM
 
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LOL, sorry that came out wrong!! My children did it on their own accord, and I happened in when they were almost done. I asked my daughter to put her skirt back on, and my son said, "Hold on, I have to take the baby out" where upon he proceeded to cut her stomach open!!!
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#10 of 17 Old 05-10-2009, 03:37 PM
 
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Yeah, I agree with Fancyoats. My interpretation was that she saw them playing doctor with genitals, and tried to redirect that play to non-genital exploration.

Anyway, to the OP- I don't think it's a big deal for 5 year old boys to be playing in a way that involves some genital touching. I think that offering them suggestions for non-genital related play is a great idea, but honestly, they are curious little boys- you may find them exploring each other's penises again. I suspect that if you "forbid" your DS from genital play, it may become much more interesting to him than it would be otherwise.

I would be concerned about this if it involved one child who was considerably older, or there were some possibility of coercion, but 5 year olds are simply exploring their bodies, and are naturally interested in a part that we don't see on display every day (unlike, say, hands or feet). I actually would not consider this his first "sexual experience." I mean, he's 5. It's not like they are masturbating one another or trying to achieve orgasm. They're just exploring their bodies.

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#11 of 17 Old 05-10-2009, 04:05 PM
 
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I am pretty sure that, when looking back on their childhood/adolescence/young adulthood, neither boy is going to regard this as his "first sexual experience." From their perspective, this is no big deal.

What concerns me more is the potential reaction of the other mom. have you told her about this? How did she suggest that you two address it? Because if her kid tells her and you haven't, she is very likely to freak out, even though she might not have freaked out if SHE had been the one to catch them at it...
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#12 of 17 Old 05-10-2009, 05:14 PM
 
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I am pretty sure that, when looking back on their childhood/adolescence/young adulthood, neither boy is going to regard this as his "first sexual experience." From their perspective, this is no big deal.
Heck I'd be surprised if they even remember it to be honest. I did doctor play at age five and honestly, I don't remember... I just go by what my mom told me.

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#13 of 17 Old 05-10-2009, 07:04 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The other parents know all about it. The first time it happened it was in their basement when I came to pick up my son from their house. We haven't talked about it in front of the kids, just talked about it separately. And they are laid back about it, also just had a talk with their son about only touching themselves, not others.....but it does seem like both boys like the game, and that is where my issue is. Do I need to try to watch them more closely to make sure this doesn't happen again? Or should I just not worry about it?? My husband is more of the mind of "tell him their not allowed to play by themselves anymore", but that feels a little too threatening to me. They clearly are doing it only when they are alone though. Hmm.
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#14 of 17 Old 05-10-2009, 07:15 PM
 
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Maybe you sould look at the full train of thought. You don't want them to do this - what do you think will happen/come of it if they DO do it again? Sometimes examining our motivations and worries really helps to figure out the best course of action.

Because the most likely outcome is that they will grow out of this stage, by the time they're about 6 or 7, possibly way before then, and stop doing it whether they're alone or not, whether you parent them over it or not.
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#15 of 17 Old 05-11-2009, 08:48 AM
 
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Maybe you sould look at the full train of thought. You don't want them to do this - what do you think will happen/come of it if they DO do it again? Sometimes examining our motivations and worries really helps to figure out the best course of action.

Because the most likely outcome is that they will grow out of this stage, by the time they're about 6 or 7, possibly way before then, and stop doing it whether they're alone or not, whether you parent them over it or not.
^yeah, that^

OP....this will not be anywhere near the front of their mind when they are older and think back to their first sexual experience...this is totally normal, body exploration. They are playing doctor with penis'...they are not playing "sex" with penis'! See what I mean?

They are innocent kids....totaly unaware of why this might make you uncomfortable. If you do anything too harsh, and don't let this just play itself out, you could end up attaching either shame, or a sense of "sexual ackwardness" to this very ntural curiosity/exploration- both of which are things that children in their age of innocence should really go without!

Their will be plenty of time later on for them to get caught up in feeling unsure or "wierd" about their bodies...they have to hit that stage at some point in their life, everyone does....but for now, how completely nice for them, that their penis is just another part of their body, you know?

GL....I can imagine it would be really hard to know what to do here.

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#16 of 17 Old 05-11-2009, 02:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thank you all for the good advice. I guess there are just so many things that come into play for me. My own parents definitely would have attached a lot of shame to this, I'm pretty sure they attached a lot of shame to self touching too. I guess it's just a whole new world that I haven't learned how to handle yet....I hear what you are all saying, but at the same time, shouldn't we have the kind of basic rule that you should only touch your own "privates"? And then in that case, when they know they are "breaking a rule" doesn't that already add to the taboo of it for them? I guess what I will just continue to try and work on my own feelings that it is NOT a big deal, and just gently guide them away from it, like we do with anything we don't want them to do? Although at the same time, I know it's not about what I "want", and then how do you approach talking to your child about real sexual touching when they are a little bit older?! I think I just suddenly feel like I have all this in my face suddenly and I don't feel equipped!
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#17 of 17 Old 05-11-2009, 02:20 PM
 
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The question is WHY do we make it a rule not to touch anyone else's genitals?

Because of abuse - usually we make this rule to protect our children from potential abusers and to give them the power to report such abuse if it ever happened. For my own DD (i am a survivor of child sex abuse and my abuser was an older child so i have thought SO MUCH about this) i tell her she should never feel uncomfortable and if she does she hould get out of the situation and tell an adult, preferably me. There's nothing abusive about 2 five-year-olds exploring one anothers bodies in the way that innocent curiosity demands and neither of them felt uncomfortable. So does it MATTER that the "no genital touching" rule is broken in that context?

For DD we tell her that we generally don't touch each others genitals. We tell her we don't want her to touch our genitals if she tries/asks (in the shower - curiosity has gotten her a few times) and we honour when she says she doesn't want her genitals to be touched (not now, but when she was still in nappies). We tell her that no adult should ever touch her genitals or ask her to touch theirs, or help her with dressing/undressing or ask for her help wth such tasks, or show hr pictures of people without clothes on. We tell her that SHE is in charge of her body and that she is allowed to change her mind at any time about how much or little someone touches her (help in the shower with hair-washing/hugs when she wants to play/cuddled up for stories or not etc.) and say so. We have taught her the proper words - vulva, vagina, penis, anus, for the parts of the body. We have told her if anyone ever wants to do something she thinks is weird or funny she doesn't have to, and that she can tell us ANYthing and have no worry about what we'll think/say. We discuss, if she does't like someone, WHY she doesn't like them, about gut-feelings and honouring our instincts. She is only 3 - we have a lot of talking ahead of us still.

However, in this context, because of what we DO do to protect her and help her protect herself from abuse, i wouldn't tell her she's not allowed to play doctor with another kid. I want to protect her. I feel i have. I don't NEED to protect her from this innocent game because it's not abuse, so i guess i just don't worry about it.
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