Teaching and talking about boundaries and behaviors
Lynne Kenney Markan, Psy.D.
What follows is a compilation of theory, clinical knowledge, and practical information about childhood sexuality with a particular emphasis on intervening with children who have had their boundaries inappropriately crossed.
Socialization of sexuality is an important aspect of the development of the child. In a childs early years, adults have a strong influence in shaping the world of the child. Adults are charged with meeting needs for food and shelter, warmth and safety. Caretakers provide the early framework for the childs attachment to and relationships with people. Caretakers provide early modeling of appropriate socialization skills necessary for healthy adaptation of the child. Beginning as early as toddlerhood and often by the preschool years, childrens interactions with siblings and peers begin to provide opportunities for growth and development as well as ground for improvement of social skills and patterning of relationships.
An important part of interpersonal and intrapersonal growth involves the identification of oneself as a sexual being. Children start to learn about their sexuality in the first few months of life when they notice pleasurable areas on their own bodies. As children grow they begin to develop sex role identities. Children adopt preferential play activities, often based on their identification as a boy or a girl, and they begin to learn about social norms, customs and mores around exploration of and expression of sexuality. Parents often provide the imprint and early guidance around sexuality and later on peers provide further influence on feelings about, meanings of, and expression of sexuality. Parents also provide education which can keep children from being harmed.
I. Talking With Children About Sexuality
II. Talking With Children About Sexuality
with Precocious Sexual Knowledge
Increasing Appropriate Sexual Behavior
If children are having challenges looking, touching, peeking or showing their body parts make a Braggin' Draggin' chart to help them monitor and change their behavior. Teach the children what behavior is expected of them by naming the positive behavior.
Make a chart and
have the children rate their behaviors one time per day. Then you rate
them too. Talk about how respectful or not respectful they were of their
own and other's bodies during the day. Encourage them to respect body
space - one arms length apart.
Plan activities or simple rewards after five days of showing their bodies and other's bodies respect.
Have the child monitor
behavior with a chart - This enhances mastery and helps
Sun Mon Tues Wed Thur Fri Sat
Kept my hands to myself
Gave others their space
Respected my body parts
Respected other peoples' body parts
Kept my body private
Enjoyed non-touching activities
How Parents Can Support a Child Who ReportsHaving Experienced Child Abuse or Maltreatment This handout is a compilation of aspects of the work that is conducted with parents after they have learned that their child has experienced abuse at the hands of another person and they have brought their child in for treatment. It is not intended as any form of guideline for identification or reporting of child abuse. Please seek professional consultation with a qualified physician or psychologist if your child has experienced child maltreatment.
1. Talk with your child calmly and matter of factly about the experience.
2. Support the childs words and report.
3. Do not interrogate the child or question his/her veracity.
4. Reassure the child that the abuse was not his/her fault and that he/she has done nothing wrong.
5. Accept the childs feelings be they anger, fear, ambivalence, confusion etc.
6. Follow through with normal life and household routines as much as possible.
7. If the child brings up the abuse allow the child to talk about it and then guide the child through re-direction to an age appropriate activity. Do not ask questions, be a sounding board by saying something like, " Sounds like you want to tell me something," or " You'd like to talk with mom about something."
8. Allow the child to move to another topic or activity as soon as possible. Again, the goal is to help "unstick" the child and help him/her to move on with lifes developmental tasks.
9. Depending on the type and degree of reported abuse, you may need to discontinue all contact in person, by phone and by writing with the person(s) the child has identified as having abused him/her until further advised by the police or a mental health clinician experienced in child abuse.
10. Enlist the assistance of an experienced licensed professional to educate parents, relatives, and teachers, about helping children through trauma.
11. In the case of reported sexual abuse, contact an experienced licensed professional to learn the facts about trauma reactions, sexually reactive children, and types of treatment or intervention.General Goals for Parenting a Child in Need of
Identify triggers to sexual acting out and manage the child's life to minimize exposure to triggers
Identify behaviors or
circumstances which precede sexual acting out or regression and manage
first. Children need to be safe from sexually mistreating themselves or
Behavior in Children and Teens
Copyright © 1999, by the author.