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Your Child's Sexual Fixation
Q: I'm concerned about my daughter. I found her trying to access sex.com, then found a doll she had written "sexy" on, and then found nude pictures (not graphic) that she had drawn. When confronted, she gets very upset -- almost hysterical. She knows she can talk to us about anything, but she does these things and feels guilty until we find out what she did, and tell her it's okay and to ask questions. We've talked to her several times about growing up, boys, etc., but she's so shy and apparently is wrestling with her conscience every time she has these thoughts/actions. We've discussed what a "bad touch" is and are sure as we can be that there has been no incident. We're not sure where to go from here, besides continuing to reinforce open communication. Is she just having a hard time adjusting to the changes involved in growing up?
A: You don't indicate your daughter's age. If she is 11or 12, these behaviors can be considered in the normal range. Continue to let your daughter know that she can come to you with any questions. Since she seems to feel shy about the topic, check in a bookstore for books on puberty that she can read on her own.
When you talk with your daughter about puberty and sexual issues, don't make a big deal about it. Try to use openings to discuss what may come up when you're watching TV together, such as commercials for acne products or a show in which people are kissing.
If you believe that your daughter needs someone with whom to talk but that she is uncomfortable talking with you, find someone else who will be a good listener and source of information for her. Perhaps she has an aunt or an adult neighbor with whom she is comfortable. Or perhaps her Girl Scout leader or school counselor can help. Many times children who are shy talking about these issues do well when the discussion is held in a group setting, such as a Girl Scout meeting or a group of girls from a class at school.
Be sure that you monitor your daughter's computer use. There are many pornographic websites that a curious child could stumble across, as well as unsupervised chat rooms in which predators can take advantage of vulnerable young people such as your daughter.
If your daughter is seven or eight years old, check further into the possibility that she may have been molested. Talk with your pediatrician or the school counselor about investigating this.
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Barbara Potts has worked as an elementary school counselor for many years. She has a BA in psychology from Wake Forest University, and an M.Ed. in Guidance and Counseling from the University of North Carolina at Greensboro.