Sexual Exploration - 7 Year Olds

Updated on March 05, 2007
S.S. asks from Mc Connells, SC
13 answers

Hi. My sister-in-law (we'll call her "A") walked in on my 7 year old daughter and her 7 year old daughter (cousins) under the covers rubbing each others' privates. She freaked out and started crying and immediately assumed that one of the girls had been sexually abused. She called me in there and made her daughter, my niece,tell me what happened. My niece, being like her mother, was so scared that she was going to get in trouble that she could only cry and ramble on & on about how it wasn't her fault it was my daughter's. I looked at my daughter and asked her why she did this and she said she learned it from my niece. My perspective on this whole incident is that it's normal for 7 year olds to be curious in that dept. "A" has been obsessed with talking to my niece about sexual "stuff" since she was 2 years old! She has previously even gone as far as accusing my father, her father-in-law, as doing something to her daughter. This time she felt that it might be my daughter's father or her mother that could have done something to her child. The two girls stories match about where they learned it (from each other) and that it has taken place only 2 times. Of course, they blame each other, but I would expect that from a 7 year old. "A: has had her daughter in counseling for a while now due to the fact that she used to rub herself against things (desks, chairs, etc) I don't believe anything abusive has happened to either of the girls, I believe this behavior is normal. And that these girls will not do it anymore b/c they were humiliated by "A" in getting caught. And the fact that my brother "cussed" out my daughter for doing it. (That is a whole different subject, that I am very mad about) "A" called me again last night and wanted to know if I had talked to my daughter anymore about it. I don't want to 'harp' on the subject b/c I feel that if I do, my daughter will not tell me things when she gets older. I'm in between being very angry at "A" and second guessing how I am handling this problem.

Since this has happened, which was just a few days ago, "A" has told her daughter even more stuff about sexual relationships. For example, "A" has a fever blister on her lip. She told her daughter that if someone has that on their lip and kisses your privates then you will get that "down there" and it will never go away. I know that eventually kids need to know this stuff. But I feel "A" is over obsessed with it and is going into too much detail with her daughter about it. And with her daughter knowing so much about 'sexual stuff' I will not want my daughter around her by herself for fear that she will teach my daughter stuff she doesn't need to know at such an early age.

One other note, I know that my daughter learns a lot just from riding the bus from her school to her daycare. These days kids do learn faster at an early age. My niece rides the bus home from school with high schoolers. I do not think elementary children should do that.

I feel that I am being realistic about this situation and that my sister-in-law is being unrealistic and is so obsessed with this that it will affect her relationship with her daughter in the future. (she also has a 2 yr old daughter and 3 month old son)

I would just like to have responses as to what I should do. If I should keep asking my daughter questions. Or if I should leave it alone b/c I've already asked her about it twice.

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So What Happened?

Thanks for everyone's advice! It's been 5 days since the incident happened and I have come to the conclusion that I will stick with what I feel is best and that I will know when the time is right to talk to my daughter about sex. I feel that I know my daughter's maturity level and a lot of what she knows and does not know. As for my sister-in-law, if she brings the subject up again I will just tell her that we have two different views and that I feel that she over-reacted.
I know my child will learn a lot from school children at school and on her bus to her daycare. I know I did. I tried to explain this to my sister-in-law, but we simply just don't see eye-to-eye. I don't expect them to come over for a while and I think it's best. I hate it that our girls have to be separated for a period of time, but I feel that right now everything is still fresh in their minds and I don't want my niece sharing all that she knows about sex with my daughter.
My mom has also had a talk with my sister-in-law and has suggested that she go to a counseler. My sister-in-law still believes that what the girls did was completely wrong and that someone showed them how to do it. I am very frustrated with her right now, but do not want to lose my relationship completely with her in fear that I wouldn't be able to see my nieces and nephew.


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answers from Columbia on

I'm with you, I think it is normal for children that age to experiment. Maybe "A" is obsessed because something happened to her and she is projecting that feeling on to this situation.

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answers from Spartanburg on

Hi S.-I have a similiar tale to tell. My neighbor when I was growing up, was found in a closet with another little girl.They were in a compromising position. There mother's went ballistic about things. One of them choose to take the approach of "it's over-forget it" and the other was like your sis-in-law. Now they have both grown up and I still see them from time to time-One is married and living a perfectly normal life-The other has been in and out of relationships and has been absued in relationships. Guess which one is ok?----You guessed it-the one whose mother choose to forget it and answer the questions as they came up. Most children will touch themselves, or "discover" themselves at some point in time. That is documentated as normal behavior.
My adice to you would be to keep her away from your neice. She will only be more confused by things that she would hear or see.You are right to be concerned about her coming to you in the future. The formidible years are so precious. You can become your childs best friend or be kept in the dark.
Good luck and take care of yourself and your family!!

1 mom found this helpful


answers from Asheville on

Wow, ok....Lets start by calming down..right? You are right that is "normal" for our children to be curious. I can remember being curious myself at a very early age, with girlfriends and masterbation (and I was never sexually abused. It is hard to determine how much to share with our young children, but I think the best would be how my grandmother handled it when she caught me...she let me know that young ladies shouldn't do that, and even though it feels good it isn't something that is exceptable. She let me know it was normal and healthy to be curious about myself, but I shouldn't do it with anyone else. She didn't make me feel ashamed and had a very calm voice, letting me ask questions and calming explaining that I shouldn't be upset, just should just not do it again.
Then she dropped it. I knew if anyone ever touched me in a way that wasn't normal to tell a grown up. But I'll tell you I still masterbated once in awhile, just a lot more privetly. Its scarry for me to think back on it know, I was very young 7 or 8; but I think you need to let A know that she is overreacting and needs to calm down. Also she doesn't need to talk about sex between a man and woman, but maybe just explain what touching yourself is and how we don't do it with other people and even though it feels good, we shouldn't do it to ourselves. I don't know...its a hard subject, and it freaks people out...but being open about masterbation isn't bad and don't be mad at the children, they don't know. Good luck!



answers from Charlotte on

Hi S.,

I would leave it alone unless and until your daughter asks more questions. As for A, I would keep the children apart as much as possible, her daughter has too much to share at this point. It will only cause problems. Also, A may want to tell your daughter, too, since she thinks you haven't talked to her enough about it. I can't believe she would talk to a 7yo about kissing privates. Stick with your gut. Protect your daughter.

Good luck!!



answers from Columbia on

First off - don't let anyone freak you out about this stuff. I don't necessariy agree that they don't know how to do this unless shown. I mean sexual content is on TV all the time, right? Or maybe it was an interesting feeling when she was bathing herself and she thought she'd check it out again. Does it make us feel uncomfortable - yes. Is it something they should be playing with friends - no. But it's part of growing up and figuring out what your body is supposed to do.

I don't think you need to keep harping at her on it. I do, however, think it might be worth a conversation to explain to her that while you aren't mad at her, your SIL is upset about it and might ask her questions. Let her know she can answer or not - but that she can always talk to you about anything like that. That way you're covered if your SIL decides to try to grill her herself.

Good luck!



answers from Charlotte on

I think you are right on. I think it is very normal behavior. I would go on as you said, but keep some distance from "A" and the neice. Sorry you had this problem. My daughter is 9, and while there was no other little girl involved, it is natural for them to be curious and explore their bodies. Good Luck.



answers from Spartanburg on

S., I would leave her alone, she has been mortified enough and I am sure she understands perfectly what happened.
I don't think this will affect the way she'll live her sexuality in the future, unless you guys keep guiltying her over it. I feel a little worse for your niece. Her mother is out of control!I understand the shock but, get a grip, woman!
They won't do it again and let's hope your niece won't be scarred by her mom's judgemental behavior.

PS tell your sister in law that parents should talk about sex to the kids only when they are asking questions, that means they are ready. Filling their head with sexual information too early will only confuse them.



answers from Spartanburg on

I agree with your perspective on this 100%. Last year, my 4yr. old son and my 6yr. old nephew were caught doing the same thing. After they were caught, my husband and I took our son aside and talked to him in a calm manner and told him that what he was doing with his cousin was something you did not do. We let him know that he was not in trouble and that we knew that he was just curious about that area. We also told him that no matter what, no one should ever touch him there in anyway because that was his private place, no one elses. Then we allowed him to ask us any questions he may have concerning the situation. While we were talking to our son, my sister-in-law was doing the same thing in the same manner. Now, as far as telling my kids about sexual things, I take that one step at a time. When my son or daughter comes to me and wants to know about something concrning sex or anything revolving around that subject, I will tell them what I think they can comprehend at their age and NOTHING MORE! I believe in being honest but not over informative! Children are going to be sexaully curious and act out in these particular manners, but as parents, we need to never over stress about it and make it out to be more than it is...unless reason be that it starts from a more serious matter. After we talked to our son that day, we have never had to talk to him about it again and to my amazement, he doesn't recall that day at all. You did what you were suppossed to do and I commend you! I hope this helps.



answers from Greensboro on

i have 3 daughters myself and i would catch them "playing" with themselves but never each other but i think that your daughter and neice are only being normal kids and i wouldnt ask my daughter about it anymore. if you keep asking her anymore then as you fear she might noit talk to you as she gets older and really needs you to answer questions. about you neice and her mother she is really over reacting over the situation. she should just leave it alone unless she is guilty of something herself. im not implying that she has done something to her daughter but maybe someone that she knows might have. if she feels that someone has done something to her daughter then she needs to have her checked out by her doctor but i think it just 2 normal girls just exploring and there is nothing wrong with that.



answers from Richmond on

I wonder if your sister in law was sexually abused as a child. It seems that she is just a bit overboard on the way she is reacting to this situation. All kids eventually discover themselves and then they sometimes explore with other children. It is part of their development. The reaction to what they are doing is what sets the tone for how they look at themselves sexually. If you make them feel they are doing something wrong and it is dirty, they will feel they are bad and dirty.

My niece did the rubbing thing around age 2-3. Her mother (my sis-in-law) and I would tell her that was something private that she needed to do in her room. Not making a big deal out of it but letting her know that it was not appropriate to do in front of people. She is now 21 and in college becoming a nurse. She is a very normal person and has had an open communication with her mom and me. I think that is the key, to be able to communicate. Not give them every detail of what happens during sex. Not at that age at least. They will ask the questions that needed.

It sounds like your brother needs some education. I hope you are able to talk to him calmly and see if he is open to hear what you have to say. I think putting a little distance between the girls for now would be a good way for your daughter to get over this. Let her come to you and ask the questions or if there is a way to gently guide the conversation. Maybe even see if there is a councelor you can talk to at school that can help gude thru this.

Good luck!



answers from Greenville on

i explored my granddaughter has explored all my boys explored and i suspect my daughter did too. the age is right if not a little late 5 to 9 is normal. keep up the good work mom and youll have your healthy relationship...:) good luck!



answers from Raleigh on

I would strongly recommend you contact Project Enlightenment if you live in the Raleigh area. They have trained counselors and professionals to talk to you for free over the phone and in person. These folks can give you great advice and insight as to why it is going on, how to handle it with your daughter, your sister in law, and how to best handle the bus ride. Good Luck. They have been extremely helpful to our family and my sister's.



answers from Charlotte on

Wow - what a situation. First of all, I would like to send you a big hug and my sympathy. This is a tough situation, and I'm sorry you are having to go through this. I read this a couple days ago, and had my husband just read it to give me his opinion on it. I'm just gonna be straightforward w/how I feel. My husband said it sounded like you were too laid back about this and "A" is too obsessed w/all the sex talk w/her daughter. I majored in psychology in college and have been through counseling myself for some personnal things. I can say that kids that age don't know or think to do something like that, whether its rubbing against stuff or doing stuff to each other/someone else, unless they have been showed or had something done to them themselves. It's not normal at this age to do that. Experimentation w/the private parts is something that happens around age 3, give or take. But 7! No child that age knows to do stuff like that on their own. And I'm not mad at you so please don't take it that way. I am honestly mad at "A" and I don't even know her. How can you talk to your child about stuff like that at this age! That to me is completely inappropriate and uncalled for. I wouldn't let me child anywhere near her or your neice alone. And I would make sure and tell "A" why you are doing that. Your job as a parent is to protect your daughter at all costs. If your neice is doing or starting things w/your daughter, albeit your niece is still an innocent child, for whatever reason, she could easily pass on things to your daughter that could cause problems in the future. In this case, your niece could be doing this because something happened to her or because "A" is sharing stuff w/her that is leading her to know that if she rubs on stuff it will feel good. But whatever it is, it's inappropriate. And if your daughter is not taken out of the situation, what things could she be doing b/c they "feel good" later on down the road.

I really do sympathize w/you. Parenting is so so hard, and the fact that this is family makes it even a harder situation. You don't want to lose family, but you want to do the right thing to. I commend you on seeking advice. And that's all this is. I'm not trying to tell you how to parent, because I mess up all the time myself. I'm just blunt. So, I apologize if I came across too strong. You and your family are in my prayers and thoughts, and I hope you find the answers you are looking for. BIG HUGS!!!

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