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Preteens and increased modesty

Emi Canahuati sexuality education

Just as the seasons change, so do our children. Mine, who just turned 8 years old, would have had no compunction about streaking naked through our house. She is growing up. Last night, she called me in while she was taking a shower because she could not find the soap. As I pulled the curtain back to hand it to her, I hear a shriek and a quick move to cover her vulva. Mind you, just yesterday, she danced with her clothes off in the living room while her grandparents were visiting. Preteens!

So it goes, that magical and appropriate developmental stage (7-8-9ish) when most children naturally get more modest. They have been stepping toward puberty since the moment they were born, but this is the age, as preteens, where it really starts to hit. This is when they start to set more boundaries around their body.

Don’t make fun of them for their newfound (or inconsistent) modesty. Respect it and follow their lead. This will model respect for bodies and boundaries. Emi Chanuati
They also start to really enjoy spending time with their friends more so than their family; they still need you big time, they just really start to be outward facing. As with the example of one day streaking and the next day covering up, children will be taking one step toward “teenagedom” and take three steps back to being babies. This will continue until at least 25 years of age, maybe longer…just kidding…mostly.

It’s a natural progression, but it might take you by surprise as this might be a big shift in the expression of their sexuality. Take it in stride. Don’t make fun of them for the newfound (or inconsistent) modesty. Respect it and follow their lead. This will model respect for bodies and boundaries. Yay!

One more reminder I got recently, is about how no matter how hard you work on sending body positive messages you can’t control what they hear. All of a sudden, even though I have never said anything close to “private parts are gross,” I hear that statement come flying out of her mouth! These negative attitudes still manage to seep in. So it’s important to get ahead of messages, because you don’t know what they will hear from the world. You want to help create a buffer and make sure the filter they have is yours, not the rest of the world’s.

That’s all I got. If you have questions or would like some one-one coaching on how to deal with specific issues, please contact me. I look forward to hearing from you.

About the Author

Emi Canahuati

I help parents have positive, non-judgmental conversations with their children about sex and sexuality. I’m certified as a sexuality educator by AASECT (American Association of Sexuality Educators, Counselors and Therapists), and hold a Master’s Degree in counseling.