Hoping to get some advice! My 7 yr old daughter is constantly playing w/herself. We've tried to camly explain that it is ok to be curious and that she needs to do that in her bedroom at bedtime. She has since been caught in her brothers room watching tv doing it (he was NOt aware). And several times on the couch and in our bedroom. Then the other day she had a friend over and they were in her bed under the covers with BOTH of there pants down! I lost it at that point and yelled at her telling her that she is not allowed to have friends in her room with the door shut! I don't want to emotionally scar her by yelling. I do realize this is normal to an extent-at this point I belive she has gone way beyond normal behavior. I feel guilty for getting angry but this needs to STOP! Any suggestions?
Although I know it's normal for kids to explore their bodies, I do understand your concern about her doing this at inappropriate times/places, and also while under her covers with a friend in her bed. At 7 years old, she is able to comprehend when it just isn't approrpiate behavoir.
I know you don't want to make her feel guilty about something that is a normal part of growing up, but being in bed with a friend, whether they were just experimenting, or whatever really did need to be addressed in a firm manner. You did the right thing in telling her she isn't allowed in her room with friends having the door closed. This is truly a sticky situation because of the fact that she isn't keeping her explorations "private".
Kids these days are exposed to so much more than we were when I was growing up, and I think that sex in general is basically pushed to the max in many public arenas, which basically gives kids these days a very "open" view of sex. I know it's really hard to govern every second your child is watching television, on-line or playing video games (lots of explicit sexual content and violence in them these days), but as parents, we need to be vigilant in our efforts to monitor what our kids are being exposed to. True enough, that no matter how much we "govern" at home, kids are hearing things at school, at other friends houses, etc. but still, we must continue to properly educate our children about sex. When the time is right of course.
I don't even know what to tell you about this, except to keep speaking with your daughter about this and reinforce that certain things are not acceptable at her young age. This could very well just be a passing phase, but you are doing the right thing by talking with her about this and not just being silent and hoping it will just go away.
I agree that we don't want our children to be made to feel that sex is a bad or dirty thing, but we still have a responsibility to teach them about it and to try and guide them if you will, to understanding the difference between appropriate and inappropriate behaviors regarding sex. I know it's not easy, and no matter what we do, there comes a point when they are going to make their own choices anyway.
Just keep an eye on the situation, and if she asks questions, absolutely answer them in a way that a 7 year old can understand because these things are better being taught by a concerned and loving parent than by some other kid at school or on the bus who really knows way more than they should at this age. I have been totally shocked by some of the things my son has come home and told me he heard on the bus or at school. When he started asking questions, I figured he really needed to know from a responsible adult, so we had our talk. To this day, if either my daughter or son asks a question, they get an answer.
Take care, and keep the lines of communication open.
Thank you very much for your input. I'm so relived to hear from another parent that I did not handle the "friend thing" too harsh! I think that the term "appropriate" and "innappropriate" are the key here. She is aware of what is appropirate when it comes to her behavior at the dinner table, grocery store, school ect..so we really need to be firm about what is appropriate in regard to touching oneself. I have always tried to be very open with my children when it comes to" sensitive" issues. I agree that they are exposed to far too many things at a very young age. I think at this point I will be a little more firm about the when and where and definitly no closed doors! Thanks again!
It's good that you recognize that your daughter touching herself is not something abnormal or a cause for concern - many parents tend to demonize exploration of one's own body. However, even the incident of your daughter under the blankets with her friend didn't come off as too shocking to me - kids of the same and opposite genders will always play 'doctor' to educate themselves. It's harmless, so long as one isn't coerced into it by the other. I know it might seem strange, but I assure you the self-discovery with a friend is not uncommon for children your daughter's age.
My only suggestion would be to continue what you're doing in terms of reinforcing that your daughter's questionable behavior should be limited to times and areas where she will be by herself (bedtime, bathtime, whatever). Believe me when I say your daughter will not be the first child to have no shame in touching herself with others present, nor will she be the last. She will eventually begin to feel weird touching herself with a friend or relative in the vicinity and may save her play for moments when she has more privacy.
How do you react when you see her going about touching herself? Do you calmly tell her to stop, or do you react with shock and/or anger? If it's the latter, there's a possible chance she's doing the exhibitionist thing to gain attention, and we all know how much kids relish attention...even if it's negative. Even if she's never been an avid attention-seeker before, almost all kids will seek extra attention at some point in their lives.