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sexual? behavior of a 5 year old
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sexual? behavior of a 5 year old

I'd like to know if this is nrmal 5 year old behabior.  Every once in a while when there is an older girl around, he wants privacy for some play.  He is normally a very open child and asks me questions aobut things he doesn't undestand.  He's basically a very outgoing, engaged boy but every once in a while something happens.  It used to be when a teenage babysitter would come over to babysit while I was here.  he would want her to put his blanky under her shirt.  This was done in a very secret way and if we came in, he was most distressed that we might have seen something.  The babysitter told me about it.  That was several months ago.

Then yesterday, he had a play date w/ two 9  and 6 y o girls.  I coudl hear him ask them go under the large blankets and ask what each tasted like, He said she tasted like fish and leman adn salt. I walked in and he was very embarrassed and asked me to leave.  I did because i didn't want him to think that normal play verging on sexual exploration was bad.  I didn't believe they were the initialtors.

The thing that tilted the scales for me was that while I was out later that day, my husband walked in on him.  He had taken down lots of clothes from his closet and had stuffed several pairs of pants w/ his clothes and he had removed his own pants.  He was lying on the clothes.  My husband left and when he came back, he was wearing new pants.  Getting himself dressed is a new thing for him and they were going out so I don't know how much that had to do with it.  Later that night when I came back, I was straightening his room and found the stuffed pants. "What's this?, I said mildly and put held them up as though they were talking to each other.  I wanted him to feel OK and open about whatever it was.  He said he didn't know what it was.  i said OK.  He left the room and called for me.  He said he'd tell me the truth tomorrow.

I'm not sure how to talk to him about whatever he might say.  My one fear is that some babysitter in the past has introduced something and I don't know how to query him about this.  There is one we don't have anymore who he adored but i felt somehow uneasy about her.  How do I ask point blank aobut her Maybe this is normal stuff but not soemthing I've ever seen or heard about.
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242606_tn?1243786248
I think you are wise to suspect that something inappropriate may have occurred. The behavior you describe is not normal for any child. Also, I sense from your note that you are too reticient about setting limits in relation to sexualized behavior. When you walked into the situation when he was with the girls you should have interrupted it right away. Do not permit him to be playing with children, boys or girls, in his room with the door closed or, even if the door is open, hidden under blankets. You've got to be his external impulse control as you teach him about suitable behavior. In any case, I would definitely question him about what he has learned from the sitters. Also, be sure to get back to him about the situation your husband encountered and the aftermath when you found the clothing.
18 Comments
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Avatar_n_tn
This is a revised update.  My husband says he wasn't lying on top of the clothes.  He was standing a few feet away and asked my husband if he had seen anything when he came in.  He has for several years had a strange facination w/ things fat. (We are not) He has stuffed his own shirt w/ his blanky and looked at himself in the mirror and made sure nobody  was looking.  This probably started when he was about 3 1/2.  i don't think he's done this for about a year or so.  I never knew  what to make of it.  He's highly imaginative and I chalked it up to that
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242606_tn?1243786248
Your son's comment to his father indicates that he (your son) is uneasy about his own behavior. Keep chatting with him in bits and piesces and see if you can figure out what he's thinking.
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Avatar_n_tn
We've spoken more aobut this and he said he wanted to tell me and  then said I could ask the other girls what the game was.  Then I said I thought it was something about eating lots of food and getting fat and stuffing things into a shirt.  That's it!, he said.  I'm so relieved that you know.  I asked him if he remembered when he first played the game.  He said he didn't and that it was just a part of who he was.  I asked who he played it with and he told me the 2 babysitters.  I asked who started the game and he said he did.

I spoke to the mother of the other girls.  What was going on under the blankets was that he was a pretending to be a bear and he was going to eat the girls.  There was no touching.  They're a close open family so I believe that's what happened.

He asked if i would play the game.  I said I would but I saw right away it was exciting him and he started touching himself.  i told him that that was something that he could do on his own in private.  I didn't want to play the game if that was how it was making him feel.  I told him he shouldn't play the game w/ anyone else because he was using others to get himself all excited in a way that they weren't meaning to play.  He said he understood.  I didn't ask him if he understood so I was surprised that he might actually have gotten that concept.  


He told me he was so relieved that I knew.  He told me if he felt tense, he wanted to play the game.  It helped him relax.  (Eeek, it sounds like how cross dressers talk about putting on women's clothes)

i also spoke to the 2 babysitters and they told me everything they knew of his game which was what I pretty much knew.  I don't beleive there was anything inappropriate there.  I don't believe I'll ever know how this got started as I don't believe he does either.  He hasn't wanted to play the game since.  One of the babysitters came over since then while I was still at home and I said I didn't think it was a good idea to play the game.  He agreed.  The relief of telling it seems to have dispersed this thing somehow.
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242606_tn?1243786248
You are certainly correct in your estimate that you will likely never know with any precision what happened. However, suffice it to say that very close supervision should occur with your son when he is playing. Let the sitters know that play under the blanket or in any other private space should not be permitted.
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Avatar_n_tn
"Let the sitters know that play under the blanket or in any other private space should not be permitted."

Yes, I've already said that.
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Avatar_n_tn
Are the child's parents engaging in immoral sexual behavior?
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Avatar_n_tn
I think 5 year olds are very creative and we as parents worry a lot about the meaning of there behavior when all we can really do is make an educated guess as to what it means.  Just stay close and loving and you can't go wrong.
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Avatar_n_tn
Yes, mommy_101, I think so too.  Brien, I won't even respond to your query.  Too weird.  You think I would post this scenariio if we were doing some immoral behavior??  Yikes! is all I can say.
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Avatar_n_tn
I've just talked to a friend who has a boy a year younger than my son.  She told me that she just walked in on her son in his father's studio.  He was alone and seemingly doing the same thing that my son has been doing for several years: stuffing shirts into the shirt he's wearing and then feeling very embarraassed when he realizes he has been seen.  And no my son and he haven't played together.  he also is a very open child and very imaginative.

I guess this is the problem w/ these sorts of forums.  We worry at the moment and want to ask an expert.  He told me this is not normal behaviour so I worried more.  Then after talking to my internist/friend and a friend who is a LCSW in private practice both w/ older kids, they both didn't seem to think much about it since they had seen so many behaviour quirks in "normal" (whatever that means, really) children.  I felt greatly relieved.  So in this situation, the good doctor's advice was not helppful.  The trust I feel is key.

I'm curious what your background is. do you have older children?

We must trust our intints,
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Avatar_n_tn
I'm not sure if I tried to post this already or not and it didn't go but I wanted to mention something that happened.  A friend of mine told me her 4 yo boy had done the exact same thing that my son had done: he had gone into his father's studio alone and was stuffing clothes under his shirt.  When the mom came into the room, he was terribly embarrassed.  He's normally an open child just like mine.  Also very imaginative.

No, they have never played together nor have they any friends or babysitters in common.  The child psychologist here said this was not within 'normal' childhood behaviour which really started me worrying.  I don't know if it was Dr. Sears but I remember somebody asking what was normal, and the response was if your child is doing well, whatever he is doing is normal for him.  Of course that's quite broad a response but what I've taken away from this situation is, as always, trust yourself.  I don't know how long the psychologist here has been in practice or whether he has children, but I have to say the alarm he sounded was not helpful.  I talked to my friends, one an internist and one a LCSW and both w/ older kids.  Both said this is a time where connections are made in the imagination that is often quite baffling to witness.

Anyway, trust yourselves.  If in doubt, find a trusted professional.
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Avatar_n_tn
I apologize, but doesn't anyone ever remember doing this as a child? I remember stuffing a blanket, shirts, stuffed animals, and all sorts of things under my own shirt -- making it look like I was fat, pregnant, to get attention, to burn off energy, to hide things, etc.

Some other things I used to do:
1. Jump up and down on my parents bed with my brother, going in a circle, laughing, and chanting "the poops are coming!the poops are coming"
2. Pulling down my pants to moon people when I was three or four years old thinking it was funny, until I did it to my dad once. He gave me a cross look and said "what the hell are you doing?" That's all it took to stop that, my mooning days ended then and there. I recall not really knowing why I was doing it, and it certainly wasn't a result of abuse or even a concious effort of nudity. I think I had just learned how to pull my pants up-and-down really well and maybe this was my way of showing off my new skill -- who knows! And who cares.

And I had a healthy childhood, was not abused, and have a healthy mental and sexual lifestyle as a straight female adult.

My point being is that kids are weirdos sometimes, so let it go.
I really think you are over-analyzing something that is completely normal behavior for a child. Children do strange things. Sometimes your intense focus on something is what throws it into a tailspin -- creating something out of nothing. Sometimes you just gotta ignore it and laugh. Please, as parents stop OVER ANALYZING.

Save it for when and if your child DOES do something to cause alarm, such as trying to pee on people or something like that. Or playing with their feces. Wetting the bed all the time. You get the idea.
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Avatar_n_tn
Yes, that's my point.  I had a moment of reaction, came here for thoughts and the doctor on this site really escalated the concern that there was abuse!  For a bit of time that worried me and my point eventually was kids do weird things and they don't necessarily mean anything.

OTOH, I think one has to follow one's thinking or concern until it's worked out.  We are who we are and have to do whatever we need to to help ourelves. I had never seen that and the shame was so surprising to me.  I had to look at it.  Someon'es overanalyzing is another's getting comfortable.  We are all different animals.

Thanks though for supporting the thinking that kids are just weird sometimes.

I'm still interested in knowing whether the Dr at this site has kids who are older and what his experience is and how long he has been practicing.
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Avatar_n_tn
i have to point out that you were the one in the original post who intimated you didn't trust a certain babysitter. you also kept reiterating how secretive your child was about all this. you said yourself that he got sexually excited about playing his game with you. obviously, you were very concerned. i feel that the doctor addressed your concerns in a sound way. we have to monitor our children's behaviors, and you owe it to your son to make sure nothing inappropriate has happened to him. playing doctor and masturbating are not shameful behaviors, the concern comes when there is an obsession with it.
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Avatar_n_tn
I found this thread while looking for info about my 5-year old daughter's behavior, worried that it may be indicative of some abuse.

She wears a "good-nite" when sleeping because of weak bladder and being a heavy sleeper. Doc says it's no big deal. She has been putting stuffed animals and once, a blanket, down her good-nite after I get her into bed. I never see her do it and she always says she doesn't know why she did it. Since she could talk, I have coached her on what to do if anyone tries to do anything inappropriate with her, and after talking to her, I feel confident that nothing of that sort has happened.

This thread has been very helpful, especially the last few comments. A couple of things clicked while reading, and I have an idea what it might be. She has a 4-year-old stepbrother and has always had a fascination with doing things like a boy, like peeing standing up (we had some messes). She used to say that she was going to be a boy like me when she grows up. I plan to ask her in a nonchalant way if she is pretending to be a boy when she does this.

Even if that isn't it, I don't think there's anything to be worried about.

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Avatar_n_tn
I believe that young kids experience with themselves certain behaviors that they believe to be different. The development of the personality and brain is in prime at this age, and therefore any ideas steming from television shows, magazine articles, etc. can be translated into their own idea that they in private manner will carry out.

For Example, I am a normal 15 year old boy, I am not homosexual nor do i have abnormal thoughts. When i was younger i can remember watching a certain show on the television that my parents we're not aware of, that gave me certain ideas to try and explore.

When i was playing with my 8 year old neice, we played "helicopter" which is where u put ur legs on their stomach and they hold on to your hands and u lift them in the air. She kept trying to move my legs down to her private parts and even though my legs were on her stomach, she tried to tell me in a playfull manner "that hurts ya know" Insuiating that my foot was hurting her private parts but cleary it was not.

Lots of jibber jabber, but my overall conclusion is that i think sexual thoughts at this age are a very, very normal thing. I do not believe that it will effect the childs way of thinking later on in life.


-Spencer
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Avatar_n_tn
To Astro:  When I told the exact same story to 2 of my friends, one a LCSW and one an internist both with preteens and teenagers, neither if them thought that it seemed out of the "norm" in that kids have all sorts of strange behaviors signifying nothing that we might be worried about.  The doctor of this site said,"I think you are wise to suspect that something inappropriate may have occurred. The behavior you describe is not normal for any child."  Obviously, he believes this which is why I wondered whether he was a young doc just out of school w/ no kids or w/ babies which might explain his limited view of such behaviors.  Not only was it not helpful but it fueled my confusion.

Yes, I did get worried but that isn't a reason for someone to agree.  i wanted an outside opinion and in a moment of weekness I came here to a place I knew nothing about for help.  My point here now is to hope to remind others who may have been in an unclear state, to take a deep breath, hang out and if necessary find  help from someone who has come highly recommended.
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Avatar_n_tn
OK, I hope this is my last post here. Today we went to our pediatrician's for a regular checkup.  Even though my son has seemed to have left this behavior behind, I thought I['d ask our doc about it.  Now our ped is no schlub.  He has articles in all sorts of Parenting mags like Parents and is quoted in many mainstream newspapers.  I told him the whole story.  He shrugged and said, doesn't sound like a problem to me.  Sounds like normal kid stuff.  I woudn't  worry about it.
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A related discussion, 5 year old daughter demonstrates sexual behavior was started.
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