Thursday, 29 December 2016

ASK THE DOCTOR - It is normal for children to play ‘doctor’ with each other?

QUESTION:
I was disturbed when I noticed that my five and half year old nephew was playing “doctor” with my 4-year-old daughter and another friend. The ‘game’ involved the showing private parts to each other. What should I do if I catch them playing “doctor” again? Is it normal? I am afraid that my daughter might be a victim of sexual abuse if I do not take action now.
- R Chopra




ANSWER:
Children from three to six years of age are most likely to play “doctor.” Many parents overreact when they witness or hear of such behaviour. Heavy-handed scolding is NOT the way to deal with the situation. Nor should parents feel this is promiscuous behaviour or will lead to promiscuity. Often, the presence of a parent is enough to interrupt the play. You may wish to direct your child’s attention to another activity without making a lot of fuss. Later, sit down with your child for a talk.

Explain that although you understand her interest in her friend’s body, she is getting  to be a big girl and people are generally expected to keep their bodies covered in public. This way you have set limits without having made the child feel guilty. This is also an appropriate age to begin to talk about good and bad touch. Tell your child that her body is her own and that she has the right to privacy. No one should touch her if she doesn’t like it or want it. Tell her that if anyone ever touches her in a way that feels strange or odd, she should tell that person to stop it and then tell you about it. Explain that you want to know about anything that makes her feel odd or uncomfortable. 

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