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sexualised behaviour.....or not?(7 Posts)
Deep breath, this is a tricky one. DD is 9, joined us 3.5 years ago. The usual ups and downs so far, but until now no evidence of sexualised behaviour. We had the background info from the SWs who said at the time that there was no evidence of sexual abuse, but it couldn't be ruled out conclusively - they just didn't know.
A friend of DDs has had a couple of playdates at ours recently, and her Mum called me earlier this week to say that DD had asked her friend to remove her pants and, I think, sit on her (details are a bit unclear as I think my brain fell over at this point and I couldn't quite take it all on board). Friend had done it a couple of times, and then felt sufficiently uncomfortable to refuse to do it again. She also mentioned it to her Mum, who spoke to me (understandable). So, no more play dates at ours for a while. DD's friend still wants to come round, so maybe saw it as weird rather than sinister, but nevertheless, I need to investigate and deal with it.
It might just normal curiosity linked to age - they are looking at puberty in class at the moment plus she and I have been going through a book about it, although the stuff she asked her friend to do pre-dates this by a week or two. They made it onto reproduction today, and DD's reaction was 'yuk'! rather than triggering a different reaction. But I also can't rule out the fact that the incidents have come from a very different and possibly dark place. How do I start this conversation and keep it going without sparking a shame reaction? Thoughts, ideas and insights gratefully received.
Well if nothing else there is clearly something about boundaries and privacy.
I think I would try and have a conversation with the other mum to estsblish exactly what happened. I think the NSPCC has some useful stuff about appropriate behaviours so have a look at that.
I'd maybe have a conversation with her about puberty, following from school and say now you are getting older you need to think about privacy. I wouldnt let her play with anyone unsupervised.
But to be honest I would feel out of my depth with this and if you have those conversations and feel there is more to it I would contact post adoption to get some professional support.
Good luck - its a very difficult one to deal with
It’s a hard one, it doesn’t necessarily point to sexual abuse or sexually harmful behaviour. I agree I’d supervise her play for the time being, have you done work with her about privacy, private parts of the body etc?
Another thing to think about is her developmental age, my DD has a good 2 year developmental delay in terms of cognition and processing so there are some areas where she behaves in a much younger way - it may be that some of your explanations and expectations need to be younger than for a typical 9 year old. If you look at the NSPCC’s list, go younger for your child.
The usual ups and downs so far, but until now no evidence of sexualised behaviour.
Have you seen usual curiosity? I’d expect children to be curious about their bodies and other people’s bodies - looking in the mirror, touching etc as part of normal development.
Thanks @Ted27 and @jellycatspyjamas, so helpful. My brain went into meltdown earlier this week and I couldn't think straight.
I think the other mother sounds very nice and caring and sensible - or she wouldn't have raised it with you directly - and so I am sure she wouldn't mind if you phoned her and explained that you were too shocked to take it in properly last time, and ask to go through it again in detail to give you more insight into what happened.
AFAIK what you have described is a sign that there is something going on for your dc, as it goes slightly beyond normal experimentation as far as I am aware, but it is worth talking it through with someone who has experience about this sort of thing such as NSPCC.
I taught my dc the pants rule when they were very young, not explaining anything about sexual matters, more explaining it as a straightforward and easy to understand "social rule" in the same way as I taught "we don't hit" - ie we don't touch other people in these areas and we don't let anyone touch us and if someone does touch you it means they don't know the rule so tell me and I will know what to do, you don't need to worry. And then more has slowly been added on over time as their awareness of the world increases. It might be that the other girl has been taught the same rule and so felt comfortable talking to her mother about it, which is really good.
In relation to what might have happened to your dc we are now more aware of how common child abuse is, and how often children do not confide in adults around them. Something may have happened in the past, or something may be happening to your dc now. I think that adopted children are particularly at risk at this age especially where the relationships with trustworthy adults are not sufficiently robust because of the child's past and where the child fears destabilising their lives further if they tell anyone. As a starting point to talk about it all you could read with her something like "I Said No! A Kid-to-kid Guide to Keeping Private Parts Private by Kimberley King and Zack King" and see how she reacts. She might volunteer info at this point. If she doesn't react to the book you could start to talk about private parts and the social rules and reassure her really strongly that if she ever wants to tell you anything, you will help her, and whoever is involved she can completely trust you to sort it out and deal with it.
In relation to helping her with what she has done with her friend and her friend's feelings, I don't think it needs to be shaming to talk about this with her. You can talk to her about what she has done, and her feelings about it, help her understand that everyone makes mistakes and hurts other people without meaning to while learning.
Helping her understand her friend's feelings while also helping her with her own feelings about it will help her with her judgement in future.
The friend participated, so it might have been hard for your child to see that she didn't like it. I would take that into account when you speak to her. Like others, I would talk about privacy and consent and that these kinds of things are for adults, because they bring up very strong feelings. Tell her it is natural to be curious, every child is and she can ask you anything. Like grateexpectations, I would read books with her. My children found it helpful to have it all spelled out very clearly.
How much sex ed has she had? Sometimes that makes them curious. Are you sure she was not exposed to pornography either in your house or at someone else's via unsupervised internet access? My kids once googled "fuck" at another family's home with a girl, who was not allowed play dates and sleepovers away from home, but who had unlimited access to the internet! Or someone told her things in school? At my children's very middle class primary some boys started watching porn in Y3 and told others about what they had seen.
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