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My son just recently turned 7; He was diagnosed with ADHD just before turning 6 years old. Most of the issues he has had I’ve been able to deal with calmly, promptly, and confidently knowing they were a “phase” or part of the ADHD that would pass or we could remedy. One of these was his stealing, I handled it calmly and it went away. However this new one has me scared, upset, confused, and very afraid that no matter what I do he may turn out to be a bad person.

Twice we have caught my son and my nephew who is 6 “having sex” to them having sex was touching each other’s penises and standing next to each other hunching each other. We explained to them this was not okay. I told my son that only he, mommy and sometimes the dr should touch his privates nobody else. I thought the situation was resolved. However today he and my 4 year old daughter were playing upstairs, they got really quiet so I asked them what they were doing and they said they were in bed. I didn’t think anything bad at the time but told them to come downstairs because they know they’re not allowed to play in the bedrooms (they have a toy room).

After they came down I asked my 4 year old why they were in bed and she said they were doing nasty things. I asked her what she meant and she said my son had put his “winkie” in her mouth and told her to wiggle her tongue and he had licked her “toochie” which is what she calls her vagina.

I’m not going to lie I completely flipped out on my son and said some very hurtful things. I then broke down in tears. I asked him why he did this and he said he saw it on a movie before but he has rubbed his penis himself and it feels good and sometimes he likes to do that with other people. I explained to him that touching himself if he was in private was okay, it was his and he could do that if he wanted to but that doing it in front of other people, having other people touch him, or him touching other people was not okay.

I feel lost because I feel like he knows this is wrong yet he does it anyway. I’ve asked him questions about who is allowed to have sex and he said grownup mommies and daddies. He knows kids are not allowed to have sex and that it is not okay for grown-ups to touch kids this way, yet he does it anyway. This scares me and I do not know what to do. Is this normal?? Or should I be very concerned over this behavior?? I know he has never seen me do anything, I have not been in a relationship for over 3 years and when I was with my ex we usually went to other places or locked my door after my kids were asleep. I would be so grateful for any advice right now as I am very scared about my son’s behavior. Thank you!!

A: Of course you are worried. I’m sure you are beside yourself about this. No, what he is doing is not “normal” as in “usual.” Yes, you should be concerned. It is normal for kids to be curious about what the other gender looks like and to want to see. What concerns me is that your son seems to know what oral sex and intercourse look like. Who would have shown him that? He says he saw it in a movie but why, oh why, would anyone let a 4-year-old see a movie that includes explicit sex? That doesn’t make any sense to me. I’m deeply concerned that someone has been molesting him and he is showing you what has happened because he is afraid to tell. It’s not uncommon for a child who has been molested to repeat the behavior rather than tell because the abuser is often smart enough to threaten or bribe the child into silence.

I think you should make an effort to talk to your son, calmly and lovingly, about the idea that sometimes kids learn to touch other people’s privates because an older person has shown them how. Explain that you understand that sometimes kids are told they will be punished in some way if they tattle. Let him know that you won’t punish him no matter what he says. Ask him again where he saw the movie and if someone has taught him what to do. Watch his reaction carefully. Stay calm but serious. Let him know you love him. You may need a therapist to help you with this, especially if he comes forward with upsetting information.

I certainly hope I’m wrong. But if he has been molested, it’s important to get professional support right away. He needs to know you’ll keep him safe. He needs to be relieved of the burden of the secret. And he needs age-appropriate sex education. Meanwhile, you are going to need some support.

I wish you well.
Dr. Marie

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Last reviewed: By John M. Grohol, Psy.D. on 26 Jun 2012

APA Reference
Hartwell-Walker, D. (2012). 7-Year-Old Displays Inappropriate Sexual Behavior. Psych Central. Retrieved on April 17, 2014, from http://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2012/06/26/7-year-old-displays-inappropriate-sexual-behavior/

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