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to be worried about DS's fear of nudity and general anxiety

(14 Posts)
jellybeannie Mon 20-May-13 22:50:24

I am starting to get worried about DS (6) and his obvious distress about people outside of his family having seen him naked as a baby. We were recently looking through some baby photos of him and in some he was naked. He got very distressed and started crying about the fact we had taken a photo of him without a nappy. I deleted them all. We also had tears this evening at bedtime when he realised that when he was at nursery, the staff had changed his nappy and therefore seen him.

I am worried that I have messed him up by telling him previously (around a year ago) that we don't show our private parts to people outside the family. It has all suddenly hit him now. He is not shy around me, and mostly not shy around DH or my mother.

I have noticed he is also getting anxious and about other things too. He feels that he has to be very honest with me about everything and gets stressed if, for example, he can't remember exactly how many times he used a bad word -this can go on for several days and then pop up again a week or so later. We previously told him Father Christmas was watching him so that he would behave and he seems to have really taken this to heart. DH is relatively religious and made some flippant comment about God always watching us and he's worried about that too. I am trying to back track on these now, but I'm not sure that he's convinced.

He also got very upset because he had a dream that he had more than one mum and confessed he didn't want me in it. I explained that I knew he loved me and that he can't control his dreams.

I could really do with some advice on what I'm doing wrong here. Or am I overreacting, will he grow out of it?

Sensitive soul sad

I think you may be being too 'pushy' - why did you tell him that we don't show private parts to people outside the family, was there a situation that called for this to be talked about?

Did he see you delete the photos? If he did, I don't think that was a good reaction on your part. It would've been better to show him pictures of yourself/DH/family members as babies too - I think deleting them was a big over-reaction.

He does sound like a sensitive little boy. You sound anxious yourself, which will rub off on him.

Mixxy Mon 20-May-13 23:01:45

I don't think you are over reacting. Feel free to tell me to mind my own bloody business, but your DH isn't Catholic by any chance?

At 6, I was told by my grandmother that we all die and that we can't take anything with us. I panicked about not being able to take my security blanket to heaven with me. My mother reassured me constantly (as an atheist) that god wouldn't punish me and that we would be in a family in heaven. My grandmother stopped giving me the creeps after my mother told her that anymore unsolicited religious instruction would result in not being allowed to see us kids.

A fear of Santa is normal. Extreme guilt about Santa is not. Talk to your GP?

Notcontent Mon 20-May-13 23:02:22

Hi Jelly - I am sure someone wiser will come along soon, but I would say that it doesn't sound like you have done anything wrong and I wouldn't panic just yet...
I think from age 4 onwards children become very aware of right/wrong and very anxious about doing the right thing. I think some children are more anxious than others. My dd went through a stage of becoming very anxious and tearful about silly things to do with school, if she thought she was somehow doing the wrong thing. I would just keep reassuring him about things and see if it's just a passing phase.

jellybeannie Mon 20-May-13 23:18:12

VisualiseAHorse - I wish I had never said anything now about "private" bits, I just assumed it was something I had to say at some point. He was crying and upset about the pictures and I just wanted to do something to comfort him so I deleted them.

The comment about God arose from talking about heaven because a family member is very ill. It wasn't meant in a menacing way, but as a comfort. It seems to have backfired.

mummytime Belgium Mon 20-May-13 23:22:26

If he is very anxious I wouldn't waste time feeling guilty, but take him to your GP and get a referral to a Paediatrician.

I would also think very hard before saying things to your son if he is going to take things literally.

Mixxy Mon 20-May-13 23:22:54

You HAD to tell your son about "private" parts to protect him from sexual predators. He must find a way of dealing with the anxiety of having "privates". Lots and lots of reassurances from you should help the situation.

piffpoff Mon 20-May-13 23:26:40

My DS2 is a bit of an anxious soul too, pretty much started overnight just after he turned 7 having watched a WW2 documentary with his Dad ( not age appropriate really, thx DH) and began having panic attacks when he saw planes overhead thinking they were going to bomb us.

His anxieties have centred around death and dying mostly, 2 years on it is much improved. There are some really good books that can help you to help him with his worries, one that we used was What to do when you worry too much, which I ordered from Amazon.

Once you have some strategies in place to help him deal with this you will both feel a lot better, your GP should be able to refer you to CAHMS if you feel like you need some help with this yourself but I would definitely recommend trying some work books at home. We found continually reassuring DS counter productive and chose a certain time of the day for 'worry time' and he saved up his worries for then.

After a while of doing this he would say he didn't have any worries to talk aboutsmile

hellymelly Mon 20-May-13 23:28:42

I have had lots of similar things with my dds, my smaller one has just turned six and she has had worries about having done the right thing, or not having told me something accurately. More so when she started school. Is he happy in his class? My older dd became hyper anxious in year one when she was generally unhappy (with her teacher etc). My dds are both sensitive, it can be hard balancing what you say to them as it can trigger a worry. I am a worrier too which doesn't help. With my dds it seems to go in phases, and I do think that 6 seems a peak age for this kind of worrying. I'd explain to him that everyone has naked baby photos, and that it is fine, not the same as him say, running about his classroom naked. Just as naked on a beach might be fine, but in school wouldn't be. Its all context, which is very hard for small children to get a handle on, when they want clear guidelines as the world is big and confusing.

jellybeannie Mon 20-May-13 23:40:23

I am very careful about what I say to him now. When we discuss these things I try to keep the conversation light and cheery, nothing intense. I have tried to tell him stories from my childhood to lighten the mood.

I was in hospital for a while (3 weeks) and I think it hit him quite hard. He was very clingy for a while, but with a lot of reassurance we are starting to get back to normal.

I mentioned going to the GP to DH but he thinks I'm overreacting.

jellybeannie Mon 20-May-13 23:45:43

Thanks for all of your replies.

piffpoff - I am going to have a look at that book on Amazon now.

piffpoff Mon 20-May-13 23:48:21

I would see your GP if it continues or gets worse but would try some age appropriate work books for dealing with anxiety first.
My GP didn't really have any advise and just referred us to CAHMs, we saw them for 6 sessions and they helped to reinforce some coping strategies.

piffpoff Mon 20-May-13 23:50:05

X post smile hope it works.

Apileofballyhoo Tue 21-May-13 00:57:30

My DS, just turned 5, got very anxious about things following me being in hospital with a miscarriage, particularly worrying about death and heaven, but also about me being sad. Lots of family time together, one on one with each parent, reassurance, normality, routine, and some months later he is more like his old self. He could get anxious and worried about anything, often very minor, but it has passed somewhat. He is sensitive, and children are very literal.

A tip. If he sees you and your DH are happy and affectionate with one another and he is included in that he will have a safe foundation. Seeing me and my DH hugging and laughing makes my DS really happy and lighthearted.

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