Parenting Q & A- Sexual activity at a young age, Explaining divorce to young children, Bedwetting

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By Gregory Ramey, PhD, child psychologist at Dayton Children's and Dayton Daily News columnist

Edition: May 6, 2007 | Topic: Questions from readers

Question

I recently discovered my 5-year-old son and a girl the same age kissing and touching each other's "privates." I've spoken with my son, and my neighbor has spoken with her daughter, but this behavior has continued. They hide when doing this. They tell adults that "it feels good" and they both like it. Are we missing something? Is this normal?

Answer

Some sexual touching between 5-year-olds is not unusual. However, children that age do not typically engage in oral-genital contact. This raises a concern as to how the children learned this behavior. Has someone touched them in this way? Have they seen others doing this? Speak with your child about these incidents. Try to remain calm, and do not react to anything he says. Be very careful not to ask leading questions, so as to avoid your son being inadvertently influenced. This is a serious situation, I would strongly suggest consulting with your family doctor. A referral to a specialist who works with young children to further investigate this matter would be appropriate.

Question

My husband and I are getting a divorce and wonder what we should say to our three children, ages 6, 8 and 10. The real reason for the divorce is very personal and I am not sure how to respond to my children's questions. Do you think it's best that my husband and I speak separately with the children?

Answer

At the young age of your children, it is important to keep the information simple, direct and concrete. Both parents should be in the room together when the children are told about the divorce. Recognize that their initial concerns will be focused on concrete issues such as whether they will be attending the same school, what will happen to their toys, and how their lives may be affected. Keep your initial conversation brief, probably lasting no more than 15 minutes. Later on, the children will ask questions and that will be the opportunity for you to address their concerns. Just because your child asks you a question does not mean you have to answer it. Since the reason for the divorce is personal, there is no necessity for you to reveal such information. However, it is critical that you reassure the children that they are in no way at fault for the separation. Divorce places children at a statistically higher risk for all kinds of problems. You can help to avoid these difficulties by working with your ex-husband in a collaborative way that puts the interests of the children as the highest priority.

Question

My 6-year-old son continues to wet the bed. I am bothered by the fact that this really doesn't seem to bother him. Sometimes I wonder if he is just lazy and is doing this on purpose. My pediatrician has done lots of tests, and says there is nothing wrong with him.

Answer

Bedwetting among boys is not that unusual at his age. Approximately 10 percent of 6-year-old boys wet the bed, a rate twice as high as that of girls. Most physicians do not recommend treatment of bedwetting until sometime between the ages of 7 to 10 years of age. Bedwetting rarely is an intentional act, and is typically not due to psychological reasons. There are a variety of treatment approaches that are effective in bedwetting, including medication, and devices that wake up a child as soon as he starts to wet the bed. I wouldn't treat this problem yet but there are things you can do. Make sure your son is responsible for taking off the sheets, putting them in the appropriate place, changing his clothes, and helping to make his bed. If the problem continues during the next few years, then consult with your pediatrician regarding various treatment approaches.


Dr. Ramey Gregory Ramey, PhD, is a child psychologist and vice president for outpatient services at The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. For more of his columns, visit www.childrensdayton.org/ramey and join Dr. Ramey on facebook at http://www.facebook.com/drgregramey

©2010 The Children's Medical Center of Dayton. Columns may be reproduced with the permission of Dayton Children's.


 

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