10 year old ds has slightly unnerving 'sex thoughts'. What do I tell him?(31 Posts)
I'm not sure if this is the right place for this thread, but I didn't know where else to put it!
Ds will be 11 in three months. Background situation (which may or may not be relevant) is that his dad and I separated when he was 5, ds lives with me but spends most weekends with his dad. They get on well and are close, though ds tends to prefer to confide in me about 'stuff' rather than his dad.
I've always open and relaxed about any questions from him regarding sex, I take the view that if they are old enough to ask a question, they are old enough to have an honest answer, albeit I don't go overboard; I just give enough info to answer the question. I'm just a bit stumped about this recent development.
DS tells me practically everything he thinks about, he's a chatterbox and it's just his way. Recently, we've had more questions and thoughts about sex and his body, all natural and normal at his age. I have told him this.
He recently got a bit tearful and told me that he has 'random' thoughts about 'doing sex stuff' with me. Or me 'doing sex stuff' with people we've met, or even himself 'doing sex stuff' with our cats .
Examples: Man came to the house to collect an item he'd bought from me from Ebay, ds is in the room as we chat. After the man went, ds informs me that he had a 'sex thought' about me and this man having sex.
Pet cat comes in, makes the usual fuss of ds, ds returns the fuss, then tells me he thought about 'licking the cat's butt'.
He tells me that he thinks about licking my fanjo (my word, not his!) , or touching me 'down there' as he puts it. He says its the words that just pop into his head rather than an actual vision of any sexual act. So he might suddenly think 'lick mums willy' as a sentence, but not the image of actually doing it. He is getting quite upset that he has these thoughts about me, and the cats, and sometimes his friends. And every time he has one, he worries about it until he can tell me about it. So I am hearing about them A LOT just now! When he tells me the 'sex thought' I can see him trying not to cry, bless him.
I have played it down, and said that it 's nothing to worry about, that it's totally normal to start thinking a bit more about sex at his age, it's just his body and mind getting ready to grow into a teenager and an adult, etc etc. But i reality I am a bit unsettled by these thoughts, as I don''t really know if it IS normal? I don't recall ever thinking this type of stuff myself as a child. I am also hating seeig him being upset about them, I feel even though I tell him they are normal and not to worry, I'm somehow not helping.
We are also quite open about being naked in front of each other, he hasn't yet become embarrassed being naked around me, and I still wander in from the bathroom with nothing on, as I have always done since before he was born. These thoughts don't seem to be connected with that, as they seem to happen out of the blue at any time, whether I'm naked or not...but I'm wondering if I should stop letting him see me naked, and curtail the bed-sharing (he likes to sleep in with me a few nights a week). But I don't want to give the impression I'm doing it because his thoughts are 'wrong'.
I am assuming it's just a phase that he will grow out of, but I hate to see him getting upset about them, and I just don't know what to say to reassure him. I don't really want to ask friends or family if their children mentioned anything similar, as I feel it's too private to ask people we actually know.
Sorry I don't really have much experience of this and have no idea whether this is normal for a 10-year-old boy, it may well be.
However, some parts of what you said made me think these sound more like intrusive thoughts than sexual urges. The fact he's having the thought but not wanting to do it and the fact they're causing him worry and anxiety are common to intrusive thoughts. Whilst these are often common in disorders such as OCD or ADHD they can also occur outside of these if a person is stressed or anxious about other things. If you google intrusive thoughts there is lots of info so you could see if they sound like what is happening to your son. Could he be stressed/ anxious about something at home, at school or is he worried about the idea of growing up? It might be he is upset about something and the effect is these thoughts which are then causing him more anxiety which cause more thoughts etc. If you think he is suffering intrusive thoughts and they are upsetting him maybe the next step would be to see your GP - such thoughts might be common during adolescence, I'm not sure, but there's no harm in checking if you're worried.
It also sounds like you are doing the right thing in being a place he can discuss his thoughts/ feelings free from judgement and have reassurance and I would keep doing that.
Sorry I can't really offer more advice as I don't really have much experience of what happens in the minds of ten-year-old boys but I hope your son is able to get past these upsetting thoughts.
Thank you, *MyNewBear', that's actually very helpful. I think it could very well be intrusive thoughts, I don't really know much about them but I will look into that. He is indeed a 'bit of a worrier', quite a perfectionist about school work and very hard on himself if he thinks he can't do it as well as it should be done (to his own high standard). There is a lot of ' I suck at this' and 'I'm rubbish at that' and he isn't really, he's bright. His understanding and ability at school is roughly two years ahead of what's expected for his age, last year he scored the highest in his year in the SATS. I try to remind him of these things to counteract the negativity, but not sure if it's working.
I do wonder sometimes if there is a touch of OCD about him. He went through a phase of randomly blurting out 'fck' under his breath, very quietly and very indistinctly, usually while just sitting quietly watching TV. It was almost like a grunt, and if I asked 'what did you say, sorry?' he'd say 'I don't know, I just need to say it, I feel funny if I don't'
That also worried him, and I told him he'd grow out of it. Now that has stopped but we have counting, every time he turns his tablet on he counts to seven really quickly. He says he 'has to' because he did it once to see how high he could count before the screen came on, and now it's just a habit.
He also HATES having to go or do anything that isn't planned days in advance, he detests arriving at his dads on a friday and his dad suddenly springing news on him that they will be going here or there the next day. To the point that he will panic and cry about it. Even if it's something he would actually enjoy.
Oh dear. I am making him sound quite an odd boy. He really doesn't seem odd most of the time, he has plenty of friends etc...he just has these funny little ways.
You should be covering up in front of each other now his sex thoughts are so disturbing for him, for his peace of mind.
He sounds like an anxious little soul. Talk to his gp.
I think you did the right thing by reassuring him. I think it's natural to get strange intrusive thoughts that you dislike and think WTF did I just think that? I certainly have thoughts like that, I think your brain sometimes just tries to think of the most taboo thing possible. I don't know any science behind it but I do think it is a thing. I just have to try and think of something else really quickly and distract myself and then it's gone. I think just give him a strategy for not focussing on the thought, like do sums in his head or something until something else distracts his thoughts away.
Sounds like intrusive thoughts to me, too. It's like he has a compulsion to think of the most shocking thing possible, then it worries him. Almost certainly to do with anxiety and his age, I imagine. He will have had sex education lessons at school, no doubt, and thoughts may be along the lines of 'wouldn't it be horrible if....... ', ' what stops people from doing........', 'What stops me from doing......'
I think you're doing the best thing by discussing it with him, and not making him feel as though he is 'bad' for having these thoughts. I suppose it's like having dreams and nightmares in a way. It's his subconscious trying to make sense of perfectly normal fears and anxieties.
God, you've just described me to a tee. Not the sex thoughts particularly but the intrusiveness and the routines. Very often it feels like my head makes me think the most shocking thought that it possibly can at that moment. I also can't read anything vaguely unsettling in the news as it stays with me for weeks and I can't shake it. I know exactly what he means. I know that's no help to you but just wanted to say he's not the only one who does this by any means. I'm 44 btw so still waiting for the phase to pass...
Has he been exposed to porn by any chance?
I would also cover up in front of him.
And get him some help for intrusive thoughts. It can be linked to OCD.
Poor lad. Thank goodness he's got such a good relationship with you and can share this. If he was dealing with this alone it would be awful for him.
Agree this is intrusive thoughts not sex thoughts and it sounds enough that you should get some help for him. So at least he's really clear this is a trick his brain plays rather than an indication of his actual feelings iyswim.
Thank you all for the replies and advice. I will have a chat with our GP (won't mention this to DS as yet, see what GP says) and in the meantime at least I can start telling him the basics about intrusive thoughts and reassure him it's just a trick his brain is playing.
I feel quite relieved now, thank you. Obviously it's not great that this is happening to him, but knowing what something is takes the worry out of it a bit.
ShelaghTurner, thanks for sharing that you have the same experiences as my ds, how have you coped with it? have you ever been advised to have any sort of therapy?
If you'd rather not say, I totally understand. It's very personal.
The first thing I thought is that it's intrusive thoughts rather than unusual sexual urges. Tell him that we all have odd thoughts at times, but some people have them more or worry about them more. Worrying about them or trying to stop them makes them worse. Tell him it's ok just to let the thoughts come and go. It's best if he can resist the urge to do counting or other rituals if those are in response to the thoughts because that is a compulsion that can become entrenched.
Witches that must be so hard.
I agree with PPs it sounds much more like OCD/intrusive thoughts than sex-based.
I would also, however, take him to the doctors about it and mention the 'needing to blurt things out'. That kind of compulsion is very common in children as an anxiety of its own, however it can also be a signifier of other issues.
It is worthwhile getting your DS to speak to someone now so there is support if he needs it. Best of luck, OP.
I too think that these are intrusive thoughts and was going to suggest OCD too. I've been through phases like this where my brain plays awful games. It does not feel nice, so I can understand how he feels, poor boy.
Have a look at pure OCD too.
Is there something that is stressing him in particular or you think he has always had these traits?
Also, I wanted to say, do talk to his GP of course, but do not be surprised if you do not get the attention or help you would expect as I found that mental health is overlooked in the UK, even more with something so difficult to diagnosed such as a rare form of OCD.
All the best. It is great that he has you!
There was a guardian video about this recently on FB and the girl had exactly what your ds had.
She said anxiety and OCD wasn't always about turning light switches on and off or cleaning hands loads. But for her it was horrible intrusive thoughts. Glad you've had good advice for it. I would speak to gp about getting a referral for specialised therapy to help him while he's young and hopefully help him
exactly what copperpot mentions - that's what is called pure OCD or obsessive OCD
Yup I agree with intrusive thoughts / ocd I used to have this as a kid , less so as an adult. I always thought it was just me until I heard something on Jeremy vine once about it and I realised.
I suffer from Mild to Moderate OCD, and your son's seemingly intrusive thoughts (and those of pp) sound very much like mine. Sometimes my brain just takes me to the very worst, most shocking and disturbing place it can.
When I was a teenager this often manifested as utterly awful nightmares (some of which I still remember 20+ years later). So do be aware that your son might experience similar and need reassurance that just because his brain can dream up these scenarios doesn't mean he, on any level, wants them to happen.
As an aside I'd warn against maths as a distraction from the thoughts, if he does have a form of OCD he may find that the maths becomes too much of a distraction - I once spent 4 hours working out the exact sum total angular degrees of every tile in my teenage bathroom.
I definitely agree with some others that maybe you should stop being naked in front of him, not because there's anything wrong with it, or either of you, but because it's a visual trigger which can cause unwanted thoughts.
Also agreed that a trip to the GP is a good call.
And if all of this sounds quite bleak, don't worry - I'm now 36, married, pregnant, have close friends, nice home, good job - of course I still know exactly how many steps there are between my house and the station, but I'm otherwise largely functional. Xx
shelagh I have suffered with the same as you on and off over the years. I can totally relate. It's horrible.
Op it's good that you've asked the question because now you can help him and he can get some support if required.
I find I get worse during times of stress and anxiety but other times I'm totally fine. I lead a very happy life for the most part and nobody apart from my dh is aware of this! I do think it would have been great to open up more as a child about my feelings and actually even now I sometimes wonder if talking to someone would help me. My parents are fantastic but they don't know about it I think I hid it really well. It's good he is talking to you.
My DD had this at 11, her intrusive thoughts were thinking about slitting her throat. She did have a couple of sex thoughts too.
She was always very anxious. She ended up being admitted to hospital through A&E, she had a crisis and thats the first we knew about it.
She had theraphy for six sessions with a therapist who specialised in cbt. She was fine afterwards (he made a relaxation cd she had to listen to everyday).
OP, I went through the same thing as a child of 8, and I think the PP are bang-on when they say that it's intrusive thoughts rather than sexual ones. I too would feel terribly guilty and ashamed of these "dirty thoughts" until I told my mum. Just by telling her I felt that I had some form of absolution, that it wasn't a dirty secret.
However - all of this started very shortly after telling my parents that I had been repeatedly raped by a family member. For me it followed on from the idea of telling my mum something and sharing the guilt, and the rapes stopping. I don't want to suggest that your son is experiencing a similar trauma, but I would certainly think that anxiety plays a part here.
For what it's worth, I did move past it.
I know a similar child with ADHD and Tourette's. They are on ADHD medication which controls the urges to say inappropriate things. I would take him to your GP for a referral to CAMHS.
I think 10 is too old to be regularly sharing a bed anyway especially under the circumstances so I wouldn't do that any more either.
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