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How should we deal with our child?

Q: My 5.5-year-old daughter goes to her friend's (5.3 years old) place to play, who stays in the same building. Today during lunch, my daughter shared the following: Her friend made her remove her clothes when she had been to her house to play and poked / fiddled with her private parts. We were stunned beyond words. It seems that her friend's mother had gone off to sleep and this was the second time this was happening. We have a close friendship with this girl's mother and do not know how to approach this topic. I am sure her mother is also not aware of this. We advised our daughter that nobody has the right to touch her or make her remove her dress except us. Is it that it is a passing phase and we are worrying too much? How do we approach her friend's mother? Kindly guide us.

A:Tact, understanding and truthfulness make a good combination when handling such problems. Curiosity about sexual parts is very normal at this age. Sometimes children in nursery school follow other children to the toilet, to see if they are the same! Instead of getting horrified and angry, just tell your daughter that neither she nor her friend should touch those parts. When you talk to the neighbour and friend, she will probably imply that your daughter initiated it. Most parents think that mischief comes from other people's children. But you should discuss this with her and say that the children were checking out each other's parts and that she should also advise her child against it. Instead of worrying about who started it, you should focus on how to distract them and get them to take on other things to do. It is a passing phase, of course. But it is also the time to teach both girls about 'bad touch' and to ask them to tell you if it ever happens again. According to a programme called TULIR in Chennai, preschool children, both boys and girls, should be forewarned against any kind of sexual abuse.

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