ShareThis Page
More Lifestyles

Living with Children: Is 5-year-old touching normal or serious?

| Monday, Aug. 25, 2014, 9:00 p.m.

Question: Our 5-year-old grandson sees his 5-year-old female first cousin from time to time. After they play for a while, he tells her he wants to “touch” her.

This has happened twice in recent months. Her parents are upset, but our grandson's parents seem to think it's no big deal. Your thoughts on this matter?

Answer: This is one of those subjects that's impossible for me to tackle without infuriating someone. Oh, well, so be it. It's an important issue, so tackle it I will, without regard for the soon-to-be incoming missiles.

I can't tell how serious this is on a scale of one to 10, and, to some degree, that's a subjective matter. It would appear from your description that the girl's parents give it a 10, and, understandably so.

If I were in their shoes, I'd give it an 11. The fact that the boy's parents assign it little importance is disrespectful (more on that in a moment) and may be defensive on their part. Today's parents are notorious for minimizing behavior problems and even denying that their kids misbehave at all.

On the one hand, this may be simple curiosity on your grandson's part. Boys usually initiate the age-old “you show me yours and I'll show you mine” game, and a boy will usually propose this particular exchange to a female playmate around age 5.

In and of itself, the fact that some touching occurs during these exchanges is nothing to be greatly upset about. Touching, mind you, not fondling.

On the other hand, it's possible that your grandson's normal desire to know what female bodies look like has become intensified by something he saw in a magazine or a video.

Unfortunately, (the question of whether such material is even appropriate for adults aside) adults are sometimes lazy about making sure that material of that sort is out of the reach of children.

If your grandson has been “sexualized” through some medium or experience, then his behavior is more than mere curiosity and merits considerable concern and firm, resolute action on the part of his parents.

When all is said and done, if one set of parents ­— the girl's, in this case — is upset about these episodes, then that becomes the default position. In that event, the boy's parents need to make perfectly clear to him that this behavior is not to happen again and make equally clear that if it does, there will be meaningful consequences.

They should also require that he apologize to his cousin in front of both sets of parents and promise her that it won't happen again. Their low rating of the seriousness of these episodes isn't relevant. They should take this approach out of respect for the girl's parents.

Visit family psychologist John Rosemond's website at www.johnrosemond.com.

TribLIVE commenting policy

You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.

We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.

While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.

We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers

We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.

We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.

We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.

We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.

click me