what to say during "private area talk" - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 14 Old 11-26-2008, 06:45 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Just wondered what exactly some of you have said to your dc (we have 3yr old boys) about their private areas. They are starting preschool for the first time, we have never really gotten into it yet since they have never had other care, except when letting them know they shouldn't be grabbing each other's areas in the bath...
DH and I want to keep an open line of communication with our children, want to be open and honest, and try to keep them safe, or at least give them what skills we can along the way, I have just never thought of the actual words.

So how far do you go with 3 yr olds?
Thanks for your thoughts!

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#2 of 14 Old 11-26-2008, 06:51 PM
 
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I've been wondering about this too. DD was tickling my butt today-a little too much- and I didn't know what to say about not touching between people's legs. So I just distracted her with something else. But I'll be watching for other responses here!
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#3 of 14 Old 11-26-2008, 07:02 PM
 
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I have a 3yo dd and a 19mo ds. DD, on occasion, would like to play with ds's penis. We say that his penis/her vulva is just for him/her and they are the only ones who should be touching them, except if mommy or daddy need to wash them.

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#4 of 14 Old 11-27-2008, 01:10 AM
 
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My kids are older now (12 & 10) but I think when they were about that age, we spoke to them about "privacy". We told them that basically "bottoms are private" and that they have a right to their privacy, and should also not bother other people. We also talked about when it would be normal or proper (e.g. Mama taking you to the doctor for the doctor to look at something) and things that would not be.

re: tickling bottoms - I think if you feel uncomfortable about it, tell your child "please don't tickle my bottom, I feel uncomfortable about it." You could also use it as a a point to start talk about appropriate and inappropriate touching.

I found the "privacy" concept a good one, also to explain why as they got older I didn't want them in the toilet w/ me or see me naked & also to give them the vocabulary to indicate whether they wanted to be "private". For example, when my son got to be about 4, I just didn't feel comfortable being naked around him. So, saying "I need mama privacy while I change my clothes, you wait outside the door for a minute" was OK.
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#5 of 14 Old 11-27-2008, 03:48 AM
 
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my friend and i really didnt have to do that talk. we took a chance to see how it worked out and our kids seemed to have a good idea of what to say/do in public.

i have been v. open in our house. my dd has touched us too (at one point she sighed and looked at my vagina and said mommy i cant wait to have hair on my vagina just like yours) and i allowed it coz it fulfilled her curiosity. she has seen both of us naked.

i would do nothing about tickling the bottom unless she does it to another person. then you can let her know what is appropriate or not. i personally didnt feel it right to introduce the uncomfortable line of thinking when it was in a normal setting.

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#6 of 14 Old 11-27-2008, 12:48 PM
 
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We tell our children that their bodies are their own and they get to decide who touches them where and how. And then we go onto explain that there are certain parts of their bodies that are particularly private and No one should touch them except mommy putting cream on for a rash, or the doctor when mommy or daddy is there just to make sure they're okay.

We also tell them we don't talk about our private body parts in public. And let me just stress this one because a family member was investigated for sexual abuse because of something my 2-year-old said that was misunderstood by her pre-school teacher. And it's not that I don't want sexual abuse investigated, but it was found to have no merit, and it's not the family member (who doesn't live with us) who went the wringer, it was me, and my daughter. We were the ones subjected to extensive investigation and invasive examinations.

So certain body parts are very private, no one can touch them and we don't talk about them in public, but it is okay to talk about them at home.

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#7 of 14 Old 11-28-2008, 12:59 AM
 
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ok, so how do you balance this with not creating sexual neurosis in your kids? I want my kids to have a healthy attitude about their bodies, to have the respect and self-awareness to explore their sexuality as they see fit, at whatever age they are ready and wanting to do that, with a partner they trust and love (in some sense or another), because I don't think it is realistic to expect a human creature to wait until marriage to want to explore their sexuality. Not realistic, and not even desirable, in my opinion.

We're freely nudie in our house, and when the kids were little and grabbed dad's penis in the bath, he just explained that it was his penis and he didn't want them touching it. In our house we say that each person gets to decide who touches their genitals -- but what if they don't mind their sibling touching it? when they're little there is a lot of curiosity and exploration, and it is normal for a little girl to want to see what a penis feels like, and if her brother doesn't mind her poking it to check it out, I don't think that's a big deal. Personally, because it sort of bothers ME to see it, I would then move them on to some other activity, nonchalantly and without shame.

I also wanted to mention the importance of using the words "penis", "vagina", "vulva", "clitoris", "anus", etc, etc, because that will eliminate the danger of them saying something innocent and having it taken in the wrong way. A relative of a friend of mine's family went through hell because her daughter said her grandpa touched her underwear (she was about 2/3, and he did a lot of her care, so through bathing and toilet things I imagine touching her underwear was a major part of his day) and the mom freaked out, grandpa (step, actually) was really hurt and denied it, nobody really knows if anything happened or not, and this poor little girl was likely left with a lot of confusion, whether something happened or not. If your child knows to call it an anus or a penis or a vagina, there is no confusion. saying "your bottom" is so confusing -- what if they are taught that nobody should be touching their bottom, and someone carries them or gives them a piggyback ride, or they sit on someone's lap, or someone affectionately pats their bum?? so much room for misunderstanding!!

I haven't read it, but Gavin DeBecker's book "Protecting the Gift" talks about all of this and comes highly recommended by lots of people.

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#8 of 14 Old 11-28-2008, 09:33 AM
 
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I strongly second reading Protecting the Gift!

At 3 we started by teaching him that he can't go outside or to the pool naked (privacy) and that his penis, testicle & anus are his private parts and Mom & Dad might help wash them in the bath or a dr. might touch them with Mom or Dad there, otherwise no one should touch them and it's ok to say no & tell us right away.

We are a very open family. Ds takes all of his clothes off as soon as he walks in the door from school. He sometimes still showers with me if we are in a hurry & he showers with dh often. He does not poke or ask questions about our bodies, he knows all the parts and isn't curious about that anymore.

I hope we are raising him to be comfortable with his body, and comfortable telling anyone who might touch him NO. 3 was about the age we started those talks.

It's hard to know what to say without saying too much.

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#9 of 14 Old 11-30-2008, 11:41 PM - Thread Starter
 
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thanks for the responses so far...

another issue is what do you say (but keep from shaming) for issues of cleanliness, like my boys are still working on the potty training thing and will be running around naked waist down and will come to the dinner table like that. They end up with one hand on the crotch and the other in the plate, then switch hands... I have made a "underware rule" and said something like "pee pee and poo poo are dirty, so we need to wear underware and not touch penis' or bottoms while eating"

for those that start the conversation with: "their bodies are their own and they get to decide who touches them where and how"
any concerns that they will interpret that to their whole body (even when you then say "except for your private areas")

Anyone have their kids ask "why" those places on their bodies should be considered "private"? (i.e. society says so) - and what did/would you say?

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#10 of 14 Old 12-02-2008, 08:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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just taking one more shameless attempt at getting more thoughts on this.
apparently its my current theme!

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#11 of 14 Old 12-02-2008, 11:05 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seemfrog View Post
thanks for the responses so far...

Anyone have their kids ask "why" those places on their bodies should be considered "private"? (i.e. society says so) - and what did/would you say?
If they asked, I would say these areas are considered forbidden/special/private/taboo because it's from there that we pee, poo and also mate and that most human societies do not think these are actions or locations are for public display.

There's many different standards of modesty in the world and teaching children not to give offense is an important and difficult art.
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#12 of 14 Old 12-03-2008, 04:55 PM
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Quote:
Originally Posted by seemfrog View Post
Just wondered what exactly some of you have said to your dc (we have 3yr old boys) about their private areas. They are starting preschool for the first time, we have never really gotten into it yet since they have never had other care, except when letting them know they shouldn't be grabbing each other's areas in the bath...
DH and I want to keep an open line of communication with our children, want to be open and honest, and try to keep them safe, or at least give them what skills we can along the way, I have just never thought of the actual words.

So how far do you go with 3 yr olds?
Thanks for your thoughts!
I am very pleased to see that many parents are being causious about this topic with their children. It was the root or basis of abuse in my childhood and it could have been corrected by anyone explaining the truth to me or even allowing me to ask or look at other people's private area. I was kept in the "dark" totally unaware of genital purposes, gender anatomy differences and the reason people wore clothes down there, until I was released from parental rule as an adult. I went to the library.
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#13 of 14 Old 12-04-2008, 01:39 AM
 
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My DS is 2.5 and I've always talked very matter of fact about it all. He knows that he has a penis and testicles and that girls have vaginas. I don't give him a hard time for exploring down there, but let him know that his penis is a private area and so it's ok for him to touch it but not to touch anyone elses. I also discourage him from rubbing himself or humping things in public, lol, I just tell him that's private and he shouldn't do that around other people.

Attachment-Parenting mom to darling DS : (January 2006). : : : : :
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#14 of 14 Old 12-04-2008, 12:12 PM
 
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We haven't really had any issues with ds outside the home, he seems pretty happy with his body. We've given names to things and we've also explained that when it comes to a person's body they get to choose. If he does something that makes me uncomfortable (to be honest this is often just climbing on my while I'm eating or wanting to grab my arm when I'm pushing a trolley or something) I say "This is my body, I get to choose." He seems to grasp that - for about 12 seconds anyway When he uses that phrase we respect his wish, he seems to like that and finds it empowering. I am hoping this will build an overall sense of his own control when it comes to his body.

My ds got a bit upset for a while when he got a little erection, we just explained that his willy was happy and that it happened to all boys and daddies. We try not to make comments about his body or differentiate so if he likes water poured on his tummy why not his willy? Sometimes his comfort level is higher than ours but we try not to get embarrassed!

I also have clear 'rules' about poo not being nice and keeping fingers out of bottoms. We've explained that it could make him sick if poo goes everywhere. I am happy saying no to him if he is curious about my body but I am not comfortable, I feel I am modeling the "I get to choose" message!
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