Sexual Curiousity: What is Normal for 5-y-old?! - Mothering Forums

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#1 of 154 Old 12-03-2010, 09:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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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.

 

Background info:

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.  

 

Preschool:

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.

 

Kindergarten:

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.

 

 

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#2 of 154 Old 12-03-2010, 09:54 PM
 
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Please don't take this the wrong way as I mean NO offense in any way what so ever but if this were my child I would be seeking the advice of a professional to get to the bottom of the issue. Perhaps they would be able to more effectivly ask questions and figure out what is causing behaviour like this. Some of the things your mentioning are beyond normal and I am pretty open with my kids about this subject at age appropriate levels so this really isn't a squeamish topic for me. My 5 year old daughter had a friend who was curious and would act out some things behind closed doors when they were left to thier own devices but not to this degree and after talking to her and her mother about it the problem did clear up.

 

I wish you and your son well. As for your friend she may just need some time to clear up her thoughts, you are dealing with a pretty touchy subject even amongst friends.

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#3 of 154 Old 12-03-2010, 10:27 PM - Thread Starter
 
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I have had my son in therapy for some time now, so we have sought advice/help about this, but his therapist doesn't seem to think it's a big deal, but it's obviously becoming a bigger deal for me.

 

I did do some reading in other online forums and saw parents posting, particularly about boys, that their kids were just obsessed with looking at and touching other kids' genitals.  According to what's "normal childhood sexual development," touching and looking at other kids' genitals is normal at this age.  I do think boys tend to do it more than girls since their genitals are more out there. 

 

I am concerned though.  What in particular strikes you as not normal?  The amount of times this has happened?  It wasn't him initiating this in several of the instances, but he has initiated this much more than I would like.

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#4 of 154 Old 12-04-2010, 04:52 AM
 
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Gosh, it is so hard to say what is 'normal' and what is not. I have one child that in the summer, due to less clothes, is all about touching his self. I mean non stop.  I also know my boys (5 and 3) have a mild curiosity about each others penis's that mostly arises in the bath tub. Obviously some curiosity and exploration is normal. But I definitely get red flags when I read your post and feel that the constant attention this is receiving from your son is possibly on the being an issue side.  But since I don't have personal experience in my children acting/reacting the way your son is, it's hard for me to judge. So I mostly wanted to tell you about a book I know of. I have been meaning to get it for my children. I had it, but then gave it to a mama in need whose child was going through abuse issues and it helped clear some boundaries for her child again. It is an excellent book: http://www.amazon.com/Right-Touch-Read-Aloud-Prevent-Collection/dp/0935699104  In fact, I'm going to go reorder right now!

I also want to say to trust your own instinct. It is one thing to sort of wonder about something our kids do. But when it is raising alarm or concern on a consistent basis, then I really think you should listen to your own intuition. You don't normally feel this way about just any ol' thing your child does do you? So please listen to yourself, and if you feel the therapist is not listening to you, switch therapist. 

I hope you have resolve soon.


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#5 of 154 Old 12-04-2010, 08:56 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks for the book suggestion.  I will definitely check that out!
 

I did try to do some reading online and read some different postings on other parenting websites, and it seemed like LOTS of parents with five-year-old boys (that age and gender in particular!) were having this problem.  I guess since there hasn't been really any touching it doesn't seem that extreme, but when it's upsetting other kids' parents, that makes it harder.  I do think my friend is overreacting about her daughter, as there was no force (she pulled her own pants down willingly) and no touching, and my son is two years younger.  I do think my son probably sees this as funny, because that would fit with his view of nakedness.   

 

I have even read some articles/postings where parents thought that letting their kids explore sexuality with other kids was great (as long as it was mutual, not forced, with same age children) and should be allowed, but I don't think I'd feel comfortable with that!  I don't think that teaches good boundaries, and you also never know if one child has been abused or would feel pressured or bad about it.  Not a good idea, IMO.  I also want my son to keep his body private, because if he's doing this sort of things with other kids, what would he think if an adult asked to see his penis or showed him their penis?  I worry that it would just seem normal to him, like "Oh, I do this at school with my friends.  This is ok!"  That worries me too.

 

Switching to another therapist for my son is nearly impossible because our insurance is HORRIBLE about mental health (I can only see my therapist every 1-2 months!) and there are few options for kids, and I can't afford the $150 per session that's the going rate here, so I am kinda stuck in that respect.

 

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#6 of 154 Old 12-04-2010, 09:21 AM - Thread Starter
 
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Ok, I just bought some books online!
 

Your Body Belongs to You by Spelman

 

The Right Touch by Kleven

 

I Said No! by King

 

It's Not the Stork by Harris.

 

The first three are about keeping your private areas private, and the last is just about bodies and sexuality, so I am thinking if he is curious he can look at a book rather than his friends' bodies.  Hopefully this will help!

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#7 of 154 Old 12-04-2010, 01:25 PM
 
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If that were my son doing that, I'd be a complete wreck.  It would not be OK with me either.  I wouldn't want my daughter hanging out alone with your son.

 

HOWEVER, in reality, I think your son is normal and curious.

 

It probably is sexual when he wants to see his friend's butts.  It's not just "funny".  I say this because I was that kid when I was little too.  I was always more interested in inappropriate things.  I was always more sexually curious than other kids.  I was the girl trying to get the other kids to pull their pants down.  I wasn't a predator, or evil, or anything.  Just very curious.  I had a book about pilgrims when I was little, and it had a drawing of kids sitting naked in a big tub of water together.  I would look at that page over and over again.   When I was a young teen, I'd watch the scrambled sex channels for those tiny glimpses when it would unscramble for just a second.  (as far as I can tell, I'm fairly normal as an adult)

 

I've been working with little kids since 1982.  There's always a few kids who are like your son in every group.  It's usually boys, but occasionally it's a girl.  It's more than the typical "fart sound" behavior.   It's normal exploration.  But, it can get out of hand.  You really have to be honest with yourself, and aware that he is interested in this.

 

I don't know that I would make a big deal out of this, and I don't think I would get counseling just yet.  I think I'd find some books that you can read, and then keep the kids  supervised.  Don't make the kids feel like this is  dirty, or nasty.  It just leaves them with issues in 15 years.   Just supervise, and make sure the teachers aren't letting a huge group of kids goof off in the bathroom together.   Nothing good can come from a big group in the bathroom at the same time anyway.  That's just asking for trouble.

 

Your son is not wrong or weird in any way.  Just normal, but with a high curiosity right now.  His friends probably are too, so they feed off of each other.

 

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#8 of 154 Old 12-04-2010, 01:51 PM
 
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I have a 5 1/2 yr old boy and he has never done that, so to me, it is a little beyond what should be happening and I'd be worried.  The fact that he has been repeatedly told would raise a flag for me.  My son is all about his own penis but shows no interest in others aside from looking at his brother's in the bath every now and again.


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#9 of 154 Old 12-04-2010, 02:32 PM
 
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My 5 year old DS doesn't seem to have any particular interest in his own genitals or anyone else's.  As far as I know, he's never been involved in any incidents like the ones you mentioned.  None of what you described strikes me as abnormal, though.  (But I haven't been around a lot of 5 year olds and don't really know what's normal.)

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#10 of 154 Old 12-04-2010, 03:09 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Thanks everyone for posting.  I'd like to hear from other mamas who have (or have had) kids this age with this sort of curiosity, or not.  It's hard to be clear that I don't want him to be doing this without being so intense that he won't tell me about it anymore.  I have told him that it's normal to be curious, but that he should be keeping his body and others' bodies private.  So far that's not working as well as I would like.

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#11 of 154 Old 12-04-2010, 03:20 PM
 
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I have three boys (ages 3, 5, and 7), and honestly, if my son were involved in all of these incidences, I would be very concerned.  I'm glad he is in therapy, b/c with what happened to him when he was 2, he has a higher risk of inappropriate behavior as he gets older.  Other than continuing to do what you are doing talking to him and reading the books you've ordered (and continuous counseling), I'm not sure what else I'd suggest.  It's great that he shares with you what goes on, though, a lot of kids wouldn't - and I would of course disapprove of what has gone on, but w/o any shame b/c otherwise he might keep it all to himself. 

 

I would give your friend some time and space; I'm also a mother of a little girl, and I might not want to hang out or put her in those situations, either.  Hopefully she comes around, eventually, and sees that your DS has (hopefully) stopped participating in activities that involve other people's private parts. 


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#12 of 154 Old 12-04-2010, 03:32 PM
 
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I just replied to you in another thread, but then saw this in the new posts and it caught my eye.  Having worked professionally with kids who have experienced abuse and have also been perpetrators (I'm not calling your son one by any means... but that is what happens when curiousity continues and continues or starts pushing the boundaries on typical exploration.), I would be very very alarmed by this.  It is not uncommon for children who have been sexually abused to act out sexually.  This sounds above and beyond typical 5 year old curiousity.  It is ongoing and pushes the boundaries of curiousity pretty far, in my opinion.  Is there any way at all for you to work with a therapist who specializes in sexual abuse?   They would likely know a great deal about PTSD and even EMDR since the two frequently go hand in hand.  It isn't going to get easier as time goes by, so I'd try my hardest to see someone really *good*.  Some therapists are practically useless.  Certain places have sliding fee scales and payment plans.  If you think long term, even spending 150 a session for six months or a year is probably worth it if it means that your son can heal.  I know this is a ton for anyone, especially raising him yourself, so it might not be do-able.  But, if you look at it against the sleep you lose over this, productivity at work, cost of meds, etc, it could really end up being a wash cost wise, and certainly much more positive in terms of his behaviors.  Good luck mama... 

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#13 of 154 Old 12-04-2010, 03:45 PM
 
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DS1 is 6 now and has still not developed modesty about his body (will happily streak through the house when he's getting ready for a shower) but doesn't pay attention to his sisters' bodies, and they are frequently unclothed and until recently all bathed together. The only time he asks anything about his sisters' genitalia is to make sure the 2 year old is wearing a diaper under her nightgown when she's playing on his bed, since she's not yet potty trained but has a habit of stripping off her diaper.

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#14 of 154 Old 12-04-2010, 06:47 PM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Bisou View Post

Thanks everyone for posting.  I'd like to hear from other mamas who have (or have had) kids this age with this sort of curiosity, or not.  It's hard to be clear that I don't want him to be doing this without being so intense that he won't tell me about it anymore.  I have told him that it's normal to be curious, but that he should be keeping his body and others' bodies private.  So far that's not working as well as I would like.



My child isn't like this, but I was, and that is what worries me.  I had "sex" at 7 yrs old b/c I was so curious.  Now this 'sex' involved a male friend sticking his penis in my vagina for a few seconds and that was it.  But still, that shouldn't be happening at that age.  I wasn't abused either, just watched too much adult tv thanks to an older sister. 


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#15 of 154 Old 12-04-2010, 10:22 PM
 
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my ds does not do any of these sorts of things.

 

if i was the other mom, i'm sorry, i would not want my child hanging out with someone that put her in those situations. absolutely not. and sure, my dd could have said no but i wouldn't want the pressure there in the first place, that's just unfair to her and i'm sure your friend just wants to protect her dd from any sort of situation like that.

 

i think that what is troubling is that you seemed to explain it away as "normal curiosity for kids" when you know that your ds's history is anything but normal.even if this were the sort of things that other kids were doing (and it very well may be) because of your ds's history it is not normal. if i were your friend, i would be worried that you did not take it as seriously as i did.

 

i'm so so sorry mama. my heart breaks for you and your little guy.


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#16 of 154 Old 12-04-2010, 10:37 PM
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"normal" or not doesn't seem to be as important as if it's problematic in your lives, which it sounds like it is. You mentioned your DS has behavioral difficulties - are you saying these are separate from the sexual play/curiosity? Maybe these behavioral difficulties are impacting the way he participates in these social situations and/or how he responds to the consequences/reactions...? Maybe he is more vulnerable to act out in these ways to compensate?

My heart goes out to you, mama. I don't think anyone wants to villanize your DS, but no one wants to see any more hardship for you, your ds or your social network!
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#17 of 154 Old 12-04-2010, 11:10 PM
 
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I was a VERY sexual kid but as far as I know, I was never sexually abused (there was abuse in my life but I remember nothing towards me but who can say if I simply just don't remember?  One of my sexual curiosities was in fact sexual abuse and I honestly have no idea why.)  I knew quite a few other very sexually curious children as well.  We talked about sex a lot and when I was about 8 ( couple years older) I allowed a boy a year or two younger to touch his bare penis to my butt for a few seconds.  I also allowed my year younger cousin lay on top of me, both of us naked sometime around the same age.

 

I don't know if I was normal although I knew a handful of other kids similar to me, however even if I was normal, I am concerned first by the fact that everything started with physical painful abuse to the genitals.  I honestly don't know much about sexual abuse but my immediate reaction is abuse to the genitals meant to harm purposely rather than sexual abuse that might hurt physically along the way but not intentially (well as unintentially as any abuse can possibly be not harmful... ) could leave a more lasting effect.

 

My second concern is his continuation of doing things and being involved with things when he is in therapy for it and talks about it with you.  He is open enough to apologize after the fact but still continues to do it.  I know at that age, I didn't talk about it with adults at all and instinctively felt I needed to lie.  I was caught in some things (passing drawings of naked people with my cousin in church for instance) but otherwise didn't willingly share info although I never had the kind of focus your son does.  Granted children aren't always great at stopping themselves and not all children lie to the degree other children do but from my own experiences it seems unusual.  None of the other children I knew talked about it with adults as far as I knew either.  Parents were never calling the school or my mom about me at least.

 

I think it is great he is in therapy and I think it is great you are getting him books to help reinforce the privacy ideas as well as give him a sexual curiosity outlet however regardless of how normal he might be in a group of non abused children, it could very well NOT be normal for him specifically due to his history and I feel because of that, it might not be best to compare him to other children.  I think at the very least his therapist should take your concerns more seriously and not continue to only offer on solution of just telling him that bodies are private.

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#18 of 154 Old 12-05-2010, 09:47 AM - Thread Starter
 
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I guess my reasoning for wondering about this being normal is the following:

 

1) Other kids (boys) my son's age are doing this at school, and his kindergarten teacher says this happens every year.  She's been teaching for 30 years and says it's very normal at this age.

 

2) My son's therapist also thinks it's normal for this age and seemed completely unconcerned about it.

 

3) If you Google "childhood sexual development," what he is doing sounds normal, except that it says it's normal if they are doing it the same amount as other kids (which I am not sure about) and if there is no force or coercion involved.  I guess in the incident where he pulled down the other girl's pants, that wasn't giving her a chance to say yes or no, so that does concern me.

 

Many of you have multiple children and talked about your kids having mild curiosity, but bathing with siblings.  My son has no siblings and is only around me, so I wonder if that makes him more curious about other kids' bodies.  He didn't show any signs of this behavior until the other kid at his preschool was trying to get all the kids to take off their clothes in the bathroom, but since then he has definitely been more curious.

 

 

 

Quote:
Originally Posted by PlayaMama View Post

my ds does not do any of these sorts of things.

 

if i was the other mom, i'm sorry, i would not want my child hanging out with someone that put her in those situations. absolutely not. and sure, my dd could have said no but i wouldn't want the pressure there in the first place, that's just unfair to her and i'm sure your friend just wants to protect her dd from any sort of situation like that.

 

i think that what is troubling is that you seemed to explain it away as "normal curiosity for kids" when you know that your ds's history is anything but normal.even if this were the sort of things that other kids were doing (and it very well may be) because of your ds's history it is not normal. if i were your friend, i would be worried that you did not take it as seriously as i did.

 

i'm so so sorry mama. my heart breaks for you and your little guy.



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#19 of 154 Old 12-05-2010, 12:45 PM
 
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If I were your friend, I would have cut off all contact between my daughter and your son, as well. This would not be okay with me in the least. I think your son's behavior exceeds normal curiosity due to the sexual abuse he suffered. I'm glad he's in therapy for this, but it sounds like he still is greatly affected by the abuse he suffered. It sounds almost obsessive on his part.


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#20 of 154 Old 12-05-2010, 01:48 PM
 
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No, not really in the range of normal IME.  I think with his history also you should be pretty harsh about what normal is and is not.  The boundaries should be very clearly delineated without gray areas.  The issue is not shame of sexuality but respect of others.  These are the rules of society and he will be best off if he learns them well and learns them to be non-negotiable.  I'd personally be way less worried about him maturing to be timid about sexuality with some hangups than that he will progress to being an abuser of others.  I hope you read those books with your ds--not just let him read them himself.  And I would definitely talk about how respecting those boundaries is the only way to keep friends.  He just lost one.  Can he learn from that that what he is doing is wrong?  Can you be clear with him that it is wrong?

 

I think for the friendship and any other future relationship it is essential that you not claim that what your ds did is normal. 

 

Saying that makes it sound like you will not be active in changing anything.  That would be a huge problem for me if I were the friend.  I personally think that is why she dropped you.  While you said it wasn't okay, you also wrote it off by suggesting it was normal.  If you'd taken it seriously, then you might have suggested a strategy like no unsupervised play at all and told her about the abuse and all that you are doing to help him heal.  She would then be closer to you just knowing your sorrows.  She would know that you are facing something difficult and feel sympathy for you and your ds and that you are making an effort to help her protect her daughter by helping her be informed.

 

But still she may not be close enough/brave enough/open enough to face having a friend with these kind of problems and make the extra effort she would have to make to monitor the friendship for her daughter.

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#21 of 154 Old 12-05-2010, 02:38 PM
 
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Neither of my sons did anything like this at that age.

I would find this concerning, both in light of his past history, and even more so, in view of the fact that he lied about other kids doing it (the bathroom incident). To me, the lying indicates that he knows quite well that this behavior isn't right. Yet he continues to do it. Given all this, I wouldn't be comfortable with a therapist who takes the position that this is normal behavior. Asking questions is normal, as is some degree of "playing doctor." But that usually happens earlier than 5. By 5 no kid I knew was doing this - and again, the incident with the lying suggests that your son is aware of what's appropriate. Yet, for whatever reason, he's continuing to do it. Which, to me, would be worrisome.

In your friend's place, I would be uncomfortable having my daughter around your son.
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#22 of 154 Old 12-05-2010, 03:41 PM
 
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You also only know what your son told you happened.  You didn't talk in detail with your friend, and who knows if her daughter even told her everything that happened.  Your friend has every right to be very upset with you for seeming to not take this seriously. 

 

I agree that some exploration is normal in kids, however the way this is playing out does not seem normal to me.

 

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#23 of 154 Old 12-05-2010, 03:56 PM
 
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I find "normal" to be a very slippery term in this area. Your son's behaviour doesn't sound all that out there to me, honestly. It's definitely not okay, especially the pulling down the other girl's pants. However, without the abuse when he was little, this wouldn't even raise flags for me. I'd just see it as something to continue working on, as so many things are. Your ds sounds a bit like ds2, in some ways. DS2 has had a few issues with showing another boy his penis, and the other boy telling him to pull down his pants and show it again, and the other boy showing ds2 his penis, etc. This has happened, slightly differently, with two boys. DS2 tells me about it, and seems to get that he's not supposed to do it...but he does it again. This isn't a red flag for me, because ds2 does this with lots of things (hitting his sisters, throwing things in the house, climbing on things, etc.). He has serious struggles with impulse control, and also forgets that he's not supposed to do things while "in the moment". This whole aspect of his behaviour is a work in progress. He's a tremendously open, sweet, direct kid...but he also thinks the penis, especially his, is the greatest thing in the world. He's also fascinated (ie. thinks the topic is hilarious, and I think he also thinks it's funny, because it gets other people upset) by talking about combinations involving the penis and the face, the penis and the mouth, the penis and the bum...and the penis and the knees, toes, etc. etc. As far as I can tell, ds2 thinks the penis is a self-contained, portable toy. We just keep plugging away at "keep it to yourself".

 

All I can suggest, OP, is to continue working on it. It's somewhat worrying that he lied in the one situation, but he seems to be quite honest about this, in general. Keep hitting the "respect other people's boundaries" side of it, and watch for any major red flags. I'd also make sure you keep his therapist in the loop. And, whether your friendship survives this or not, I'd definitely try to contact the other mom, and get her child's version of events. There could be some subtleties that you didn't get from your ds.

 

ETA: I also don't think you treated this like it was nothing or no big deal. It's possible your friend took it that way, as other posters have suggested, but I didn't get that impression at all. It's quite possible to think something is normal, and still be trying to deal with it, as it's not appropriate/respectful/etc. (I think it's "normal" when my toddler hits someone...but that doesn't mean I just ignore it.)

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#24 of 154 Old 12-05-2010, 04:09 PM
 
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I have a six year old girl and an almost five year old boy. To me your son's behavior sounds like it is outside the range of normal but I don't have much experience with kids other than my own. If I was your friend I would no longer allow my daughter anywhere near your son, supervised or not. My kids aren't interested in genitals in any way. They have noticed that boys and girls look different but that's it and that was only in the context of seeing me change the diapers of their little brother and sister. I would be seeking the help of a different professional. Be sure to always supervise your son when he's around other children, male or female, so he doesn't do anything that could emotionally harm them. 

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#25 of 154 Old 12-05-2010, 07:25 PM
 
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I have a 4.75 year old boy and we are pretty comfortable with nudity in our house. The rule for us is no nudity in the common areas and no nudity at other people's homes. We instituted this rule when his friend-girl came over last summer. At the time, they were about 4.3 years old; the two of them stripped naked and streaked through the house giggling. It was so odd that it quite took us both (me and her mom) aback. We calmly dealt with it by helping them dress and telling them that we keep our clothes on at other people's houses. They did and we haven't had any more issues with that but you could tell that they thought they were being funny; it had nothing to do with sexual exploration at all.

 

What you describe does not seem "normal" to me, maybe more because of the way you do describe it. Your post seemed a lot like you were hoping to be told this was normal so you wouldn't have to deal with it or your friend. I can tell you, though, that my friend was a bit more freaked out when our kids streaked us than I was; I think in large part because she is EXTREMELY overprotective of her daughter (late baby after many issues; almost lost her). I am of the school of thought that dealing with it calmly and matter-of-factly will move us past it more quickly. In our case, it was a necessary lesson about boundaries that just hadn't come up in our lives until that moment.

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#26 of 154 Old 12-06-2010, 06:37 AM
 
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Sigh.... your friend is overreacting.

It must have really hurt your feelings, and its a pity that two kids that get along well have their friendship broken up in this way.

Your response to the situation couldnt have been better. You expressed your concern. You spoke to your honest boy about it. You said you should talk more, and it is a situation that requires a conversation, but i do not  think its more alarming than that.

 

I have two boys, 2, and 5, and they are going through a 'poopy' stage. They makes jokes and songs about poop, they bend over and flash their behind at each other. if they are naked (have just taken a bath for eg. ) it wouldnt be beyond realm of possibility that they might flash their anuses at each other, maybe even touch it. It hasnt happened, and i wouldnt allow it, mainly for reasons of hygiene. I have explained by way of prevention that touching anuses is germy, because human waste is passed though it.  But such a thing would seem normal to me, a normal extension of the 'poopy' humor.

 

As they get older, kids will play sexual games, this requires awareness and honesty (your son was honest and i am impressed). But as far as i understand it, this is normal too.

I teach my boys about bodily autonomy. If you say no, the person cannot touch you, that includes hugging, kissing, hitting, anything. Im sure that because of this, they will be able to stand up to anyone who wants to touch them in ways that are undesirable to them.

 

Anyway, i dont think your son's behavior is abnormal. However,  i would certainly supervise playdates closely just to make sure boundaires are not crossed.

 

I am sorry your friend over reacted.

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#27 of 154 Old 12-06-2010, 06:44 AM
 
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....wanted to add after having read above 2 posts-my kids frequently run around the house naked, especially my 2yo. If a playdate resulted in a boy and girl streaking around the house, i woudlnt have a problem with it at all. Where is the problem? If anything, its an opportunity to observe and supervise healthy behavior and ensure boundaries are not crossed. Being naked is a normal healthy human state. Im never the person bothered by this.

 

As for curiosity about genitals, i have observed this in my kids. Again, totally normal. My older son once showed curiosity about my 2yos  penis. I told him it was private and he couldnt touch it. That was that.

I dont think you are looking for excuses, you are asking normal questions because you want to be honest about the situation.

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#28 of 154 Old 12-06-2010, 07:31 AM
 
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If I didnt know that he was molested in daycare I wouldnt think this was so abnormal.

I think because of his past there has probably been much (maybe too much) talk about touching, privates, penisis............

He is curious and not shy. I am SO glad he feels comfortable to tell you what he did and hope he can always trust you with that stuff.

Some kids are sexual by nature, some are drawn to the no-no's. It could be one or the other or both for him.

I have a 5 yr old boy and a 7 yr old girl. Any curiosity about other peoples parts and touching I have always been very quick and non chalant about.

I give it the same reaction that I would for anything that I know is innocent. Besides a few random moonings, I havent encountered anything else.

 

Hopefully this is a short phase. It's really hard for a kid to understand why butts are not to be touched. He is only 5. He is in therapy. You know he is not being sexually abused now.

I wouldnt give this too much attention. I would say calmly before playdates that you expect him to keep his pants on, his friends to keep their pants on, and if anyone's come off- the playdate is over, and have a fun time!

 

If I were that mom I'd still hang out with you, but watch the kids closesly and have a talk with my DD.

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#29 of 154 Old 12-06-2010, 08:46 AM
 
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I just want to put in a word for being cautious about calling something 'normal' or not. Humans are sexual beings from a very young age, and human sexuality is widely varied in terms of drives, appetites, and curiousity. Social norms define what is deviant, and American culture is pretty far on the end of the spectrum that says sex is taboo and inappropriate/bad/wicked/shameful in a lot of contexts, and there are only a few 'right' ways to express sexuality. For example, Germans have a long tradition freie koerper kultur (nudism). We have a book in German about body parts, and the last page is filled with SEVEN drawings of buck naked, anatomically intact kids, and the child is supposed to identify who is a boy and who is a girl, and there is a blank spot where he/she can draw in their own picture of themselves. So, merely posing this question to a German might elicit a different response than asking Americans or Australians.

 

I don't think the comparisons of penises, wanting to see what equipment little girls have, or saying, "Touch my butt!" is necessarily cause for saying his behavior is abnormal. Yes, it does lie outside the boundary of what American adults have delineated as appropriate, but I think almost all kids engage in some degree of exploration of their own and other kids' bodies between ages 4-7 or so.

Kids are not always good at reading boundaries between socially sanctioned and socially proscribed, and he has a lot of overlapping boundaries of public/private body parts (hands/penis), public/private spaces (living room/bedroom), public/private venues (school/home) to navigate. If he is very curious and doesn't have great impulse control, he may not be checking all of this stuff. Whatever is going on with him, I think it's important not to instill in him a lasting sense of shame if he is merely a very curious little boy. If it were my boy, I'd let him know that I appreciate that he is being honest with me, and let him know that he can ask me ANY questions he has about his body or other people's bodies, check out some books from the library about bodies and reproduction. We also talk a lot about manners and how manners are things we do or refrain from doing in order to make sure everyone around us feels comfortable and has an enjoyable time when we are with them. So, #1, it's very bad manners to ask other people to show us their private body parts. And #2, it's also very bad manners to get undressed when we are out in public or entertaining company.

 

Do you trust your therapist? If she has a good and ongoing relationship with your son, do you think she can read him well enough to know if this behavior is indicative of some deeper psychological disturbance or pathology? I would like to believe that human beings are resilient enough that if he was hurt at a daycare at age 2, taken out of the situation, has been going to therapy, and you are providing responsive, affectionate, and appropriate care to him, that he will not be scarred or warped for life by this one incident.

 

PS As to your friend - if you two are really tight, I would be inclined to ask her straight up if this incident is something that she is planning to sever the friendship over and if there is anything that can be done to save the relationship because she is a pretty important person to you. I would be pretty distraught if one of my closest female friends cut off contact with me without even a full conversation about the decision. greensad.gif Hopefully she will come around and you can work out a way to remain friends.

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#30 of 154 Old 12-06-2010, 08:58 AM
 
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My first thought even before reading your complete post was "This child has had someone touch or ? him".  I am so sorry this happened. 

 

I only speak from experience of my own that children don't know these types of things (sexually) unless prompted by another, mainly an older child whom has been exposed from an adult or an adult that shouldn't be trusted.  I am glad to see you are proactive in seeking help for him. 

 

I have found that parents that do not respect themselves (prior abuse themselves) and have not sought help tend to raise the same.  Boundaries are essential. 

 

My Father's family is not to be trusted and I will NEVER let my DS stay with any of them, no matter how much help they receive.  

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