I was babysitting a child (girl) who was about 6-8 years old. We were talking and she told me that she did not like playing with a specific friend, who was also a girl, also her age. She told me that they would sometimes go into her bedroom and close the door and she would lie down on her bed and her friend would be the doctor. She seemed uncomfortable and did not want to speak about it, although did not seem to understand why. I asked her why she didn’t tell her friend no. She told me that her friend did not listen to her, and made all the rules when they played together. They are neighbors, so they play together very often. The girl that I babysit is very timid and doesn’t know how to stand up for herself, and the neighbor, (who I met,) is very aggressive. I do not know if this is considered abuse, as they are both girls, both the same age. Is this normal childhood curiosity? And if it is abuse, and has been going on for a little while, should this girl be in therapy?
“Playing doctor” and body exploration is normal among young children. Curiosity is developmentally normal at this age, but there are several red flags that might suggest that this is not developmentally-appropriate behavior. The potential victim is uncomfortable and feels forced into this “game.” The potential offending child does not take no for an answer and is also quite aggressive. Those are suspicious signs that could indicate that this is abnormal and inappropriate.
You should immediately bring this information to the attention of her parents. If necessary, you could also contact child protective services or local law enforcement. The investigating professionals can assess the situation and determine if further action is warranted. Thank you for your question. Please take care.
Dr. Kristina Randle
Is This Child Being Abused?
Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW
Kristina Randle, Ph.D., LCSW is a licensed psychotherapist and Assistant Professor of Social Work and Forensics with extensive experience in the field of mental health. She works in private practice with adults, adolescents and families. Kristina has worked in a large array of settings including community mental health, college counseling and university research centers.
APA Reference Randle, K. (2018). Is This Child Being Abused?. Psych Central.
Retrieved on May 21, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2016/12/08/is-this-child-being-abused/
Last updated: 8 May 2018 Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.