Is it nor­mal for kids to play doc­tors and nurses?

Irish Independent - Health & Living - - PARENTING -

?WE have a very stress­ful fam­ily sit­u­a­tion go­ing on. My son is aged just five and is be­ing branded a per­vert. Him and his cousin, a girl the same age as him, were found in her bed­room with their pants down. My sis­ter-in-law

THE ap­par­ent sex­ual be­hav­iour of chil­dren can be dis­rup­tive, dis­tress­ing and even de­struc­tive for fam­ily har­mony. Over the years, I have heard so many sto­ries of fam­i­lies that have been torn apart by the be­hav­iour of their child or an­other child, where it ap­pears to be sex­u­ally mo­ti­vated.

How­ever, based on what you de­scribe, I think your son is be­ing un­fairly de­monised for what is nor­mal be­hav­iour for chil­dren aged five. He and his cousin seemed, from what you say, to be ex­press­ing a fairly typ­i­cal cu­rios­ity about each other’s bod­ies, which is com­mon amongst that age group.

Five-year-olds are quite likely to be­gin to won­der, ‘where do ba­bies come from?’ Or if they al­ready know they came from their mother’s tummy, may be keen to know how they got in there in the first place. Chil­dren their age may show in­ter­est in their own gen­i­tals or the gen­i­tals of other chil­dren of ei­ther sex.

We com­monly al­lude to this in­ter­est by jok­ingly re­fer­ring to the “you show my yours and I’ll show you mine…” phase that chil­dren went bal­lis­tic and she is re­fus­ing now to let him come near their house. She re­ported my son to the Gar­dai and we have had a call from a so­cial worker who is due to come and visit. My brother is sid­ing with his wife on the mat­ter. We can’t talk to them. I thought it was nor­mal enough to play doc­tors and nurses at their age? can ex­hibit. Chil­dren of their age may hug and kiss each other and may play doc­tors and nurses, com­plete with full ex­am­i­na­tion!

We need to un­der­stand that these kinds of be­hav­iours do not carry the same adult sex­ual in­tent, or even aware­ness of sex­u­al­ity, that make them sex­ual ac­tiv­i­ties per se. They may in­volve the sex­ual body parts, but they are not sex­ual in their mo­ti­va­tion.

So, it would be re­ally help­ful to know ex­actly what your son and niece were do­ing in the room with their pants down. If it is the case that they were just check­ing out each oth­ers’ bod­ies, even if that in­volved touch­ing as well as look­ing, then I don’t think there is any­thing to be alarmed about.

If, how­ever, they were sim­u­lat­ing sex (oral sex or pen­e­tra­tive sex) then their be­hav­iour is more wor­ry­ing and does re­quire a much more sig­nif­i­cant eval­u­a­tion, to try to de­ter­mine where ei­ther or both of them may have learned those kinds of be­hav­iours.

I think you will find that the so­cial work­ers will be much more con­cerned if the chil­dren were mim­ick­ing sex in any way.

As­sum­ing that your son’s and his cousin’s be­hav­iour was at the more typ­i­cal, cu­rios­ity-based end of the spec­trum, it does, nonethe­less, war­rant a con­ver­sa­tion about bod­ies and about pri­vacy. So, I think you’ll need to talk to him about his pri­vate parts, and girls’ pri­vate parts be­ing off-lim­its for touch­ing.

An easy way to help chil­dren his age un­der­stand which parts of the body are pri­vate is to re­fer to the parts that are usu­ally cov­ered by swim­ming togs. Do use the cor­rect lan­guage and ter­mi­nol­ogy, re­fer­ring to his pe­nis and his cousin’s vulva or vagi­nal area.

I think it is re­ally im­por­tant that your son knows that he is not a bad child for what he did. It is per­fectly fine for him to learn that it isn’t OK to touch other peo­ple on their pri­vate parts, but do make sure you dif­fer­en­ti­ate be­tween him as a per­son and his be­hav­iour.

It would also be re­ally im­por­tant to have a full and frank con­ver­sa­tion with your brother and sis­ter-in-law. Per­haps some­one else in the fam­ily might bro­ker a sit-down meet­ing where you could all dis­cuss what ac­tu­ally went on, with a view to clar­i­fy­ing the full na­ture and ex­tent of what the two were up to with their pants down.

Hav­ing so­cial work in­volved may be a good thing, as it will, hope­fully, shed light on the ac­tu­al­ity of what hap­pened and the shared (or oth­er­wise) na­ture of their be­hav­iour.

I think your son de­serves an op­por­tu­nity to avoid be­ing pil­lo­ried and vil­i­fied for what seems to be nor­mal five-year-old be­hav­iour.

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