11 Yo Girl Feels Guilty for "Bad Thoughts"

Updated on September 22, 2016
M.S. asks from Saint Louis, MO
13 answers

My youngest daughter has always been a "worrier". She tends to overreact to some situations and has a hard time moving on from things that bother her. She has had some difficulty in reading, but with some intervention at school, and very hard work on her part, she seems to be pretty much caught up with her peers, so this stressor should be relieved. She used to tell on herself for the smallest things. Like even thinking about hitting her sister would make her feel bad enough to tell on herself. We seemed t reassure hour enough, and she moved out of that phase and seemed fine. Now (like the past 3 weeks) she seems stuck on sexual thoughts. She says she thinks things like "what if my sister and so and so had sex" and she finds herself looking at people's privates. I told her the thoughts were normal, and that we live in a very visual world and it would be impossible not to look at peoples private areas especially from her vantage point. She seems okay with that answer and giggles a bit and goes about her business but within a few hours it is on her mind again. I did finally get out of her, in trying to figure out where these new fears are coming from, that one of the neighbor girls showed my daughters her mother's box of sexual toys. The assortment was pretty impressive apparently, and while I thought I was pretty open minded and honest with my girls, I must admit I have not explained to them the uses of vibrators and lubricants. I do know that a couple of months back, my daughter did masturbate with a shower head and she felt EXTREMELY bad about it. My husband and I talked with her at length about it at that time, and explained to her that it is very normal to be curious about that, and everyone does that at some point and it is her body and not at all shameful, and she really seemed ok with that part although, I am not sure she completely let it go now, I have tried limiting her TV time to next to nothing and she has very minimal computer time although I do allow her to play some age appropriate games.

I need advice on redirecting her focus so these thoughts do not become obsessions. I do not think she actually fantasizes about sex oper se, it almost seems like it is confusion or non understanding on her part. Any one else ever hd to help a child work through this without them feeling so bad. Thanks in advance for any advice.

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So What Happened?

I would like to add , that I have mentioned this to her pediatrician, who I trust wholeheartedly, both last year over the telling on her self, and a couple of days ago about this, and he assures me that there is nothing extreme enough to warrant putting her through tests yet. She is anxious, but she interacts with her peers appropriately, has no sleep or mood issues like anger toward us or her sister, and no developing coping behaviors, so while we should watch for developing symptoms, right now she seems to be going through what he thinks is a phase. She is a very pleasant and happy child except for the brief periods of pinpointed stress. I guess I just wish thetre was a way to hurry the phases along, especially the difficult ones.

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answers from Wichita on

Counseling... put her in counseling. It's obvious she wants to talk, so get her talking to someone who can make all this talking productive for her.

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answers from Minneapolis on


3 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

kudos to you for having such a sharing relationship with your child! Since she knows the mechanics/physical side of sexual relations. I would focus on the emotional side of it. Teach her to embrace love & purity of emotion, which is so very different from what our children are bombarded with in today's world.

Make sure she fully understands what is driving her body at this point. & shame on that neighbor for having her "toys" so easily-accessible to her children!

Oh, & one more thought: how about getting your daughter involved in a volunteer program where she can see 1sthand how nice it can feel to be "good" & helpful.....or how about Scouts, 4H, or some other organization where she can learn soul-enriching life skills? Maybe that would help turn her mindframe around.....to a happy viewpoint- instead of worrying!

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Los Angeles on

Hm have you thought about taking her to a therapist? I might be on the overly cautious side b/c mental illness runs in my family but my sister showed symptoms of OCD when she was young (around your daughter's age and even earlier) and now she's nonfunctional. I've since learned that had our parents recognized the symptoms and taken her to a therapist, it could have been completely eradicated. Childhood OCD is much easier to treat (celebs like jessica alba have had it) and the earlier you recognize the symptoms and treat it, the better quality of life your child will have. I'm not saying your daughter is OCD but she seems to be exhibiting some of the intrusive and obsessive thoughts that OCD people have. Plus, she seems to feel an enormous amount of guilt. Try googling childhood OCD and see if it pertains to your daughter. Again, I don't mean to offend -- I just wish somebody had told us about this when my sister was young. Best of luck,

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Denver on

This is a great book to have- it'll encourage her to find answers for herself, and also keep the lines of communication open with you. If she has a question, you can talk to her about your perspective, expectations, family morals, and whatnot and use the book for "technical" backup.


2 moms found this helpful


answers from St. Louis on

Sounds like she's having some OCD feelings (not saying she is OCD). I was a worrier when younger too. I suggest having her write her feelings down when she feels bad, or get her some 'worry' dolls so she can tell them her worries to get them out of her head. Explain to her that it's natural to worry or feel bad about something, but maybe by directing her to putting her thoughts on paper, she will feel less inclined to tell you about it (thus telling on herself).

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Dallas on

I'm kind of in awe that she is so open with you. I don't know that I would go into a whole lot more detail. I get that she is confused, but the confusion could stem more from what her bodies feeling vs what her heart and mind and consciounce are telling her. Having more info isn't really going to help that. The thing she needs explained is why. Why does she feel those things? Why does the lady have those things in her little treasure chest? Why is it wrong when it feels good? Does it make her bad that it feels good? I would alleviate her anxiety by explaining what the root cause of the urge is (you can go Bible or Biology, or both) and what is and isn't an appropriate way to handle it. If she is staying within the parameters of appropriate, than no need for guilt because it's perfectly natural. It helped my girl to know that she wasn't just a "teen raging with hormones" as people like to say, but that it's all part of the grand plan to repopulate the Earth. She had to know that it was private and sacred, not to be shared with anyone, as well. And that it was too soon to act on those feelings. She knew she wasn't wrong for her feelings, but she had good and bad choices in front of her. Hope that helps. And Again - kudos on having such an open and honest relationship with her. You must be a great mom.

2 moms found this helpful


answers from Boise on

If you think her fears are more confusion, maybe she needs more information. Does she have questions? Have you gone over toys, etc.? Maybe telling her things that she may come across or experience herself would be a way of giving her a heads up, so that she doesn't focus on it so much. I think it is great that she tells you these things. And as long as you keep reassuring her and not making her feel self conscious for thinking about them, or even obsessing about them, she will come around. Maybe take whatever topic it is and either draw out the conversation, or after the topic is talked out, redirect her elsewhere.

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Denver on

This is my son exactly. Everything you mentioned is exactly the same as what my 9-1/2 year old is going through right now. I know this post is 6 years old but glad I ran across it.



answers from New York on

Honestly, it sounds like she is obsessing already. Between that, the anxiety and paranoia, I would discuss with her doctor whether there is some sort of emotional disorder. I would also not allow her to that neighbor's house again! It sounds like she came across things that she was not ready to think about. I think it's also important to discuss privacy - that you don't need to know if she masturbates, it's not something tweens or teens need to tell their parents.



answers from Kansas City on

M., you have just described my son to a T. I have worried about this same behavior for about 4 years now, and he is 12. I took him to a counselor, and he described it as "almost" OCD, because of the telling on himself part. They just can't not tell on themselves. It was pretty bad at school when my son "had" to tell his teacher that he was looking at her too, if you know what I mean. I will be anxious to read any other replies that you get because it seems that it is a phase, but ours in lasting too long!! Good luck to you too.


answers from Kansas City on

it sounds to me like she may have a case of OCD. i have OCD and i get that way. Guilt is a huge factor for me. I am still mentally obsessing about how i stepped on a friends foot in heels back in APRIL. it happens. Just keep reassuring her that all of her feelings are normal. if it is really bothering her, then maybe look into a low dose of paxil or a GOOD st. johns wort supplement (i buy mine on-line).



answers from Seattle on

The thoughts and actions sound totally normal... it's just the actually telling other people about them, and only out of a sense of guilt (since many families are that open with each other) that is abnormal.

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