sexuality Early Childhood
Q Last night, when my husband and I finished making love, we noticed that our six-year-old son was asleep at the foot of our bed. He must have come in while we were making love and fallen asleep. We didn't hear a thing. Was he traumatized? Should we say anything to him? Guest Therapist Elanah Wernik, MSW, answers: A: Your son most probably saw you making love but he obviously felt comfortable enough to fall right back asleep. Most of us have had the experience of waking our children (who have fallen asleep in front of the TV or in our beds) and getting them back to their rooms, speaking with them, giving them a kiss goodnight-- and the next morning the kids don't remember a thing.
Dear WholeFamily Counselor, In my neighborhood pool, mothers often bring their four- and five-year-old sons into the women's changing room. This seems to me not to be in the best interests of the child. In fact, I think it's a subtle form of sexual abuse. I'm sure we wouldn't bring our five-year-old daughters into the men's locker room. At what age should parents stop bringing their children into a dressing room of the opposite sex?
We're expecting our second child soon. How can we best respond to our five-year-old's questions about how the baby got there, inside me!? Guest Expert, Lisa Kainan, MA, answers: When parents explain sex and birth to their children, they should take into account the child's level of understanding and allow the child's own curiosity to be a guide as to how much detail to give. The most accessible explanation will be one that is just one level above the child's current level of understanding. This level can easily be determined by directly asking the child some simple questions about where babies come from. Children can easily sense a parent's embarrassment or anxiety concerning this subject.
Parents sometimes are concerned about possible sexual interaction between their children of different ages. This concern was illustrated in a question I received from a mother of three. She asked: "I found my three-year-old daughter in a room with my seven-year-old son and five-year-old daughter. It was very quiet in the room, and that's very unlike them. I don't know what they were doing, but I sensed a lot of curiosity. It seemed to be secret. My caregiver also says there seem to be a lot of physical games going on. They want to hug and kiss and after watching The Lion King, they lick each other. My sense is these activities are different from plain affection.
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