Ideas on discipline for a sexually acting out child (we believe a result of abuse)? :( - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 6 Old 12-07-2012, 07:57 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I could really use some ideas, all help is appreciated. :) My just turned 4-year-old very sweet daughter shows a lot of signs of having been sexually abused (investigation is unfounded at this point as they said a "three year old isn't credible"); I take her to play therapy weekly, but she still has to see the person who we suspect may have abused her twice a week (supervised for now, praying it stays that way). Her behaviors went away when she didn't have to see that person (during investigation) but have come back since starting visits and are continuing to intensify. 

 

Her therapist told me the other day to treat these behaviors like I would any other. Another thing to keep in mind is that I work 50ish hours a week, so my mother and sisters take care of my daughter and her younger brother most often. 

 

These are the behaviors I'm seeing right now:

 

LOTS of potty talk

Showing her private areas to people

Attempting to touch others in their private area

Shows much affection to men in their 20's (calls them her "boyfriend" and sits on their lap, nothing has been "inappropriate" yet there that I've seen)

Artwork almost always focuses on bathroom related themes or body areas

 

Thus far, she has not done any of this to other children, it's only to family members. But it's extremely bothersome and I'm concerned because I don't want to somehow make her feel like whatever happened to her was her fault or anything--this must be so confusing for her to have inappropriate things happen to her and then for us to try to teach her healthy sexuality...but it's hard to know how to discipline these behaviors.

 

Has anyone else been through this and how did you deal with it?

UGH, I really hope on the one hand that NO ONE else has had to deal with this...

 

Thanks. <3

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#2 of 6 Old 12-07-2012, 04:53 PM
 
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Originally Posted by LifeMoreSimply View Post

 

LOTS of potty talk

Showing her private areas to people

Attempting to touch others in their private area

Shows much affection to men in their 20's (calls them her "boyfriend" and sits on their lap, nothing has been "inappropriate" yet there that I've seen)

Artwork almost always focuses on bathroom related themes or body areas

 

 

 

Potty talk - I think this is very age-appropriate. With my non-abused DD, I'd joke right back with potty talk. But for your daughter, since it is a concern for you, I think it would probably be better to simply not respond to the potty talk (that is, you respond to the real content of the conversation, but ignore the potty talk, so for example, "these potatoes taste like poop" you might say, "you don't like these potatoes? Would you like something else instead?"). If there is a large number of different people involved with your child, simply ignoring the potty talk can be hard to get everyone to do. So you might choose to remind her, "no potty talk, please." But I really think not responding to it is best. 

 

Showing her private areas to people: "You need to keep your private area private. It is yours and not for other people." Redirect if she persists. Try to get her engaged in wearing fancy dresses or something and showing that off instead. This behavior can also be age-appropriate at 4 - my DD and her friends would spontaneously rip off their clothes and erupt into what they callled a yoni and butt dance. Try  not to show shock and get her back into her clothes without punishment.

 

Attempting to touch people's private parts. "That is his private part. It is not for you to touch."

 

Shows affection to men: demonstrate how to ask for a hug if it is an appropriate person to hug, after one hug if she wants more say, "one hug per person is what is polite." Show her how to engage in an appropriate way: "Remember, we shake hands with people."

 

Artwork focusing on bathroom themes or body areas. I wouldn't intervene any differently than I would with any artwork.

 

 

I think overall the message you want to convey to her is that her body is hers, her private areas are hers and to be respected by others, we respect other people's bodies, we give other people appropriate physical space... over and over and over.

 

And use no negative consequences at all.

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#3 of 6 Old 12-08-2012, 10:07 PM
 
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I've been in the field for a long time. I can safely say that most of the things listed here do not raise my red flags in terms of abuse, but do raise a couple of questions..

 

A 4 year old who is fascinated by boyfriends is most commonly seen when a big sister (or aunt, or mom, or a favorite movie) is swept away and in love with a boy. She is simply emulating the big girls. I've seen princess movies do it to some little girls.

 

Sometimes the interest in body parts is just development, but sometimes it is also that a child has caught a glimpse of parts, or a glimpse of people doing things with their parts. I think back to the child I worked with once who was referred to me because she told her day care teacher that she could "lick his weenie". When all was said and done, it turned out that mom and dad liked hanging out in the kitchen when the kids were "asleep" and she witnessed mom giving dad a treat one night. Normal, typical reaction to a relatively typical situation. It could have been a nightmare if mom and dad weren't so honest.

 

Showing off privates can be quite thrilling, especially when people are all "oh my goodness! shocking! nononono!"...it's like when the littles drop the F-bomb for the sheer reaction. It's funny! (to a 4 year old). Same thing about drawing poops or dog weenies or people weenies or big lady-chests. All it would take is one person to be all shocked and aghast for that to be a favorite theme. At this age, also, there is a keen interest in gender differences. When my own DD was in daycare, she witnessed boys peeing and was very interested in learning how that works. When her puppy had a constant boner and spent all day humping furniture, pillows, and god-knows what else, she learned alllllll about penises and it was all penis-talk for days on end. Poop, pee, butts and underwear are all open-season humor at 4. I had a patient once who played "poopy diaper" for a year. Nope--she was not an abuse victim...but her caregivers were a bit on the Victorian end of things. All those limits were stressing her out!

 

We have a relaxed policy in our home about colorful language (can't be used in a hostile fashion toward a living thing), but when I decided to enroll DD in kindergarten this year after unschooling for quite a while, we had to run through the words we can't say at school (similar to a George Carlin skit). She made up a song about them, and to this day I regret not having a recording device in the car, as she threw every one of them into the song and honestly, it was quite funny. She has never uttered any of the list at school, as she understood well how there are rules at school and friends' houses about it that we don't have at home. And, I might add...DD very rarely uses said colorful language at home, but when she does, it reflects very nice grammar and is really well-placed and meaningful!

 

All that said, mom's intuition is usually pretty good. So if there is some cause for concern from an external source, it's good to teach DD NOW about what her parts are, how to keep them safe (I always say "we keep those safe and just for us and our someday-babies!") (But you can't make babies until after your nursies grow big to feed them...so you get to keep those safe for a long time) (DD is baby-crazy, so it works for us), what to do if someone tries to get at them ("Scream really loud! Let's practice! Lemme hear it!") Also, making sure everything is healthy down below helps too. I once had a patient who was masturbating a LOT, but it turned out that after the beach season she had some yeast in the nether regions. Ow! (But not abuse, as was initially thought)

 

Hope that helps, momma! It can be crazy on the mommyworries when kiddos do this!

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#4 of 6 Old 12-09-2012, 03:10 PM
 
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I don't have much to add but want to encourage you to  follow your mama instinct, stop all visits with the person you suspect as an abuser and remember that 4 is much to young to play any meaningful role in protecting her safety - it's 100% the job of the parent at this age. I recommend a wonderful book, "Protecting the Gift". They should have copies in your local library system. 


Mama to DD September 2001 and DD April 2011 *Winner for most typos* eat.gif
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#5 of 6 Old 12-11-2012, 12:07 PM
 
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Originally Posted by IdentityCrisisMama View Post

I don't have much to add but want to encourage you to  follow your mama instinct, stop all visits with the person you suspect as an abuser and remember that 4 is much to young to play any meaningful role in protecting her safety - it's 100% the job of the parent at this age. I recommend a wonderful book, "Protecting the Gift". They should have copies in your local library system. 


Well, except if this is court-ordered and the court hasn't modified the order, doing this might have HUGE consequences that may or may not be worth it for everyone involved.  If this is a custody situation, this sort of step definitely shouldn't be taken without consultation with a very good lawyer.

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#6 of 6 Old 12-21-2012, 07:50 PM
 
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I have to agree there seem to be no major red flags. These appear to be typical behaviors seen in many children her age. I agree one hundred percent with the previous poster who shared she works in the field. It may be something but until there is a disclosure I would continue on as you would gor anything else. I would continue to treat it like that even if there had been a disclosure. My six year old is doing very similar things, including showing private parts occasionally, and no one has abused my child. But we continue to react appropriately without being overly reactive.
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