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Why does my son like play with his clothes off?

Q: I received a phone call from my 5-year-old's teacher that my son and another student were playing with themselves in the boy's rest room. When I confronted my son, he said they were just using the restroom. Although he said that he is afraid to show me how he was doing this. I know he is upset because I confronted him about it, but I am not sure if there is more to the story. I assured him that he wasn't going to be in any trouble. Both boys have been banned from going to the restroom with the other children and have to use the staff bathroom. This is not the first time this has happened. On his 4th birthday he was found with my best friend's daughter, watching TV under a blanket with nothing but their underpants on. About 6 months later, the same little girl and him were naked playing with toys in his room. Then about 4 months ago another friend's son and him were playing in his room and they were jumping on the bed without any clothes. All three children were born within the same month. My husband and I have 3 boys aged, 14, 5 and 2 years and we live in the country. The first incident we just dismissed because my eldest son who is 14 now, and my 5-year-old have always watched movies in their underwear. They both said it was uncomfortable to have a nightshirt on when they moved around. We are open about the birds and the bees and the boys don't know the first thing about knocking before entering the bathroom especially when I am in it. Locking the door doesn't seem to help much, unless I get upset with them about it. As far as I know there has been no sexual abuse with any of our boys. My husband and I have worked in the mental health and legal field, but since it is our own child, we are at a loss. Is this unusual for this age? Or is there more going on that we need to be concerned about?

A:Just think of what you would advise a parent who came to you with these episodes. You would reassure them that very young children do not have the same concepts of modesty that adults have. Modesty is after all, a learnt thing. Growing up on a farm and with only brothers as siblings could also account for why being naked is no big deal in the view of the 5 year old. Schools tend to take a severe view of any unconventional behaviour and the teachers strictness may make the boys feel ashamed. I do not think there is any cause for worry. But you should talk to your son and tell him that societal expectations about modesty should be observed. There are so many fields and areas in which he can express his individuality and freedom. Talk to him easily and without making it a problem and in all likelihood it will disappear as a childish prank.

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