Child Sexual Abuse - Signs And Symptoms

Sexual abuse has affected millions of children throughout the world. Child sexual abuse is defined as: An adult using a child for sexual purposes. This can be in the form of child pornography, submitting children to look at pornography, fondling, touching, kissing, sodomy, exposing oneself to a child, rape, oral sex, intercourse, or having the child touch the adult. All children will react differently to this type of trauma. There is no one single identifiable sign or symptom that all children will have. They may have very subtle symptoms or they may have very pronounced symptoms. I have gathered a list of symptoms that children of sexual abuse are often seen to have.

Bedwetting (after being potty trained)

Waking up in the night screaming, nightmares or other sleeping problems

Showing an unusual fear of certain people, places or things

A reluctance to be with a certain person

Loss of appetite or trouble eating

Fear of the bathroom

Excessive crying

Mood changes, anger outbursts or withdrawal or fear

Becomes worried when clothing is removed

Wearing layers of clothing

Age inappropriate knowledge of sex

Imitating sexual acts with other children or toys, such as dolls

Withdrawing from activities they used to be involved in

Difficulty walking or sitting

Complains of pain with urination or bowel movement

Bleeding from the genital area or anus

Academic problems

Lowered self esteem

Symptoms of PTSD such as panic attacks

Somatic complaints

Regression of behavior

Having new words for private body parts

Excessive masturbation

These are all symptoms of child sexual abuse. One common feeling I have found in working with children and adolescents, is guilt. Children usually feel guilt over the abuse that occurred. It is important to remember that under no circumstance is a child ever responsible for what happened to them. It is crucial that “re- victimization” does not happen. Some ways a child can be re- victimized is by saying to the child:

“Uncle Joey, or Grandpa Bob would never do that to you, why are you lying?”

“It couldn’t of been that bad, or you would have told me sooner”

Child sexual abuse victims usually carry this trauma with them for the rest of their lives. Some children as they begin to get older will start using drugs, get into relationships with others who are abusive, see themselves as “damaged goods” and begin acting out sexually. Engage is self mutilation, such as cutting behaviors. Some children gain weight or don’t take care of themselves so they look “unattractive” to others.

There is hope. Finding the proper treatment for past trauma can be influential on how they cope with this as an adult. Rape crisis centers are usually available in most states. There is also a national rape crisis center. They are a full service agency that addresses prevention, education, crisis intervention, counseling and advocacy. They work with both children and adults. There is also a 24 hour hotline available at the national rape crisis center, for parents or victims of sexual abuse.

About the Author
Wendy McLellan is a licensed mental health and substance abuse counselor, with more than sixteen years of experience. She has recently devoted time to the efforts of in their goal to provide parental internet safety tools and resources to the public.

Family Fun Activities: Why Family Entertainment Is Important For Your Family

Do you spend much time considering the issue of family entertainment? When parents compare notes and questions about parenting, the issue of entertainment rarely comes up. After all, how can family fun compare with such important issues as health, safety, values, nutrition, and education? But family fun is an important issue for parents for three reasons.

First, it is important to remember that family bonds are not born in the delivery room. Family bonds have to be forged and strengthened over time. Family fun is a great way to build family bonds by spending time together. While you cannot plan an activity specifically just to create a better relationship with your children you can improve your relationship through a family fun activity.

Second, the best way to teach your children something new or help them master a new skill is through fun. No one, and especially not kids, likes learning by listening to a boring lecture but if you can take your children to a location that allows you to teach them something about science, history, or the world then you will be increasing their knowledge based. Fun can be educational as well as entertaining. Remember, that there are all kinds of fun scientific concepts as well as world knowledge that can be learned outside of museums.

Family fun activities are also important for building those lasting memories of their childhood that children will carry into adulthood and out of your home. What stories do you want your children to be able to tell their children? What memories do you want your children to have? Happy childhood memories can help children with self esteem and overcome challenges in the future. Giving your children those happy childhood memories will help provide a solid foundation to become the people you want them to be as adults.

Spending time, energy and money focusing on family fun activities is a worthwhile activity for every parent because it helps strengthen family bonds, provides opportunities for learning, and creates lasting memories. Keep that in mind the next time you decide family entertainment is not a high priority.

About the Author
Deanna Mascle shares more Family Fun Activities and Family Entertainment Tips at

Thirteen Things Adults Can Learn From Children

Children can teach adults a thing or two. If you just take a moment and observe a child's mannerisms, you will see some surprising things in their personalities that would make you wish, "Where did those days go when I was a kid?" Followed by childhood memories that made you smile. Whether it was your favorite toy, place to go, or the warm feeling you get when you smell a certain food or listen to a song, it's moments like those that you will cherish forever. Yet, what if you could learn from those moments through the children you watch interacting today? Make some adjustment to a life you may not be too happy with these days. What possibly could a child teach an adult? In this article you will find 13 things that you may want to add to your own personality and change the way you do things.

Smile even when everyone around you isn't. People can sometimes represent a mirror that you just don't want to view in public. Take a moment to look at the person walking past you; the grimace that is on their face may be reflective of the grimace that is on yours. A child's smile will make you smile back.

Say "Hi" to the people you come in contact with no matter what they look like or what mood they appear to be in. You don't have to look at someone to say, hello, although you should. However, sometimes a nice "Hi or Hello" can help the angriest person get out of an ugly mood. Children who are joyous don't care how ugly you may feel. When they are in a good mood, they want the world to know about it. So very young children will say, "Hi" and keep saying it until you say something and then they continue exercising their one or two word vocabulary "bye, bye!"

Be kind to nice people and ignore the mean ones. Sometimes children experience a negative feeling when certain people come around them and they will scream their heads off. Then when someone comes around they truly like, they will positively interact with them. When you know that you have attempted to be respectful to a mean person and they choose to grunt, swear, or ignore you, don't challenge them. Rather, look for a nice person and give them an extra dose of kindness.

Cry without shame. Sometimes the emotion is too great to keep in and children will let a tear fall in an unlikely place. When you feel as if you are busting out of your seams, take a moment out of your life and just let go. Whether you have happy or sad tears, let them go.

Laugh loud! Not only at what most people would laugh about, but even the things you find funny no matter how corny, gross, silly, etc.

Tell someone you trust about something new you had learned. For example, children will share their excitement about learning new things such as "I can say my ABCs and I know how to tie my shoe." Let someone know how proud you are of your accomplishments.

Show someone your pictures. Whether it was one you drew, photographed, or bought, show and tell never goes out of style. Even if your friends aren't impressed, so what! Do most children stop being creative because someone called their picture ugly?

Speak up when someone does or says something you don't like. Children will be direct about how they feel and sometimes demand that their needs are met. Don't always feel the need to hide how you feel. Since you have the advantage of knowing when is the right time to express how you feel about an issue, do it. Lying or sugarcoating your feelings will do more harm than good.

Protect your brother or sister. It isn't often that you will find someone who will show loyalty. In order to have a loyal relative or friend, you will have to first show that you are loyal. Like the little boy who stuck his hand out in front of his brother, when a stranger attempted to touch his little brother's hand, you may have to do the same one day for your brother or sister.

When you hard. If you are going to bother to take a vacation, why not do it in style? Going out to eat? Enjoy the meal without cell phones. Going to the game? Yell, eat, drink and be merry! Attending a conference, meet and greet as many people as you can! Children know how to have a good time. Jumping, singing, dancing, yelling, playing games, you name it, they come to a party to have a good time.

It's okay to be a picky eater (sometimes.) You may not like a certain food or drink. Don't eat or drink it, because everyone else tells you it's good for you. Find something that is the equivalent to it. Children won't let anything touch their lips that they aren't sure of and you shouldn't either. "What is this stuff?"

Say, "I love you" to the people you care about. Children who are taught to say, "I love you." Will say it even when you don't deserve it. Don't let another day go by without sharing a little love with those you care about.

Always say, "Please" and "Thank you." Sometimes more than once, nice and loud so everyone around you can hear will do.

Although this article may have been a tad entertaining, the messages are serious. Do make an impact on yourself and someone you love by learning a few things from a child. Become a better you, by protecting, loving, and learning from the inner child within you.

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20 Ways You Can Lose Physical Custody of Your Children

What is really in the best interest of the children? When both parents have proven that they both can raise their children, the court will look at other things that will benefit the county the children currently reside in, find fault over small things to reach a decision, solely go with what the mediator has written in his or her report or it just depends on what kind of personal experience they have had (don't believe that all judges look at a case fairly and without prejudice.) Don't underestimate judges, many still make decisions based on Christian principles. You might want to brush up on the 10 Commandments before you submit your court paperwork.

The following points you may want to consider before you speak with your attorney and then prepare to ask he or she how do any of the following issues impact your case. People with a similar issue have made the following mistakes prior to getting their divorces granted:

Tell your ex and others, that may know your ex, about the new man/woman you are seeing. Parade around town with him or her months after filing for the divorce.

Become pregnant within a year after your divorce.

Relocate without the children even if it is temporary.

Take the children to another state without telling your former spouse.

Talk to his/her in-laws about your relationship.

Tell mutual friends about your intentions.

Forget to record phone calls or videotape moments that could damage the ex's opportunity to have the children.

Show up in court without an attorney.

Listen to bad advice, particularly from people who have not gone through what you went through.

No financial or mental support from church, family or friends.

No significant money saved in a savings account, stocks, mutual funds, CDs, or IRAs.

Children are not involved in any activities while in your care.

You are not involved in any nonprofit, civic or charitable organizations.

No driver's license.

Become unemployed.

Acquire new incidents on your police record.

Drink publicly.

Do drugs.

Have friends who participate in illegal activities.

Write or sign anything that could be used against you in court.

Be irresponsible such as miss doctor's appointments, take the children to dangerous places, have too many caretakers, etc.

Note: Although the following is not on the list it is just as important, choosing not to report instances of stalking, physical and/or mental abuse by your ex that could help your case. Also, making false accusations against your mate and later being found out. Lastly, establishing credit, abusing finances, taking money from your children's trust fund or savings account, etc. all in their names.

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Why Parents Secretly Favor One Child Over Another

Parents began favoring one child over another the day when the not-so favored child decided to go against the rules not once, not twice, but as many times as they could to get what they wanted, make a statement, or show parents when their wrong in their judgments. Controlling adults who become parents don't take to kindly to this behavior and will punish the child, at times, severely. The hardheaded, stubborn, strong-willed, defiant and many other words used to describe this challenging child was why secretly, parents gave up on the battles with him or her and began to favor the easy-going, obedient, and respectful child.

This is a sad truth! As much as parents say they love all their children the same, the reality is they don't. They love their children differently based on the personality that they have noticed within each of their children. John will receive tough love because he challenges authority and David will receive a gentler love because he doesn't put up a challenge. As both children become older, tasks are given to them and they are expected to follow instructions and make mom and dad proud. However, the child who prefers to question authority before he completes his task is met with a frown from defeated parents who have grown weary of John's "smart mouth, mess ups" etc. So he makes a decision not to even do the task - "Why bother, my parents don't expect me to do it right anyway?" However, the favored child completes the task and doesn't let the parents' attitude or his sibling's objections affect what needs to be done. Moments like these are repeated over time, with parents asking that the room be cleaned to taking out the trash and parents all the while are judging who is more responsible and ultimately who will win the prize once they are older whether it be college paid for, a trust fund, property left to them, their grandchildren (from the favored sibling) gifts and a host of other rewards. The favored child gets an increase of "brownie points," while the other child is labeled irresponsible and reminded about the past and all the times he or she failed at assigned tasks and didn't follow parent's orders. Could it have been the un-favored child just needed a little more instruction, attention or maybe a simple smile from mom or dad that said, "I have faith in you"?

Now that the children are adults, parents are observing each adult child's behavior closely, because they know the kind of adults their children have become will reflect on whether the parents enabled their successes or failures in life. The favored child has shown a consistent lifestyle with little, if any, fluctuation in it. He or she doesn't seem to waver too far from mom or dad (oftentimes they live in the same state), they seem to be around to help them in whatever way they can -sometimes without being asked. They aren't frivolous with their finances and seem to have stable relationships with everyone around them. Yet, the not so favored child is not coming around the parents often. In fact, they may have moved out of the state, against his or her parent's wishes. He or she may not have many stable relationships and enjoys spending money at times more than what the parents would have done when they were his or her age. The parents see their adult child as irresponsible in their eyes. Is the adult child really irresponsible or just different and the parents don't like it because they can't control them? The answer to this question lies with the person going through a similar experience. Even though the parents can remember times when they made similar mistakes, they usually won't admit them, because they want their children to do "as their told" and would like to appear in the best light possible.

The favored child is sold on the parent's self-righteous behavior and will continue to make his or herself "look good" in their parents' eyes or face scrutiny (which they don't want to do, because they or their children's children might miss out on some promised reward for being "the good child." ) The least favored child, who has this history of going against parent's wishes, has added more reasons to their parents' list of why they can't be trusted or favored. Whatever the reason, the parents are attempting to justify their unfair practices. Parents believe that irresponsibility is the ultimate reason why the favored child gets what he or she receives and the others don't. When in reality, the parent chose to not like one child over the other, because they used every negative experience as a means not to grow closer together, but further apart. What happened to the concept of looking at the glass half full instead of empty when it comes to raising children?

Why don't parents, utilize the least favored child's defiance, disobedience, and other negative behaviors to understand what needs to be done to steer them in a positive direction and work to achieve the results that will make them productive members of society. Embrace the challenges--embrace the child! In the end, whether parenting is criticized or not by the children, at least parents will know that they really did do the best they could and now it is up to their child to continue to be the best they can. Parents need to remember to watch playing favorites, because they will never know when the favored child will ultimately be the one who lets you down, while the un-favored child maybe the one in your corner.

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How to Determine Whether Keeping the Children After a Separation or Divorce is the Best Thing to Do

You have successfully ended the relationship with the mother or father of your children. It was successful for many of you reading this article, because you no longer have to subject your children to the screaming matches, fighting, or unexplained tension in the air. Yet, having accomplished this feat there is still another battle looming and that is making the decision to fight for the children in court.

Many parents think they are exceptional in raising their children; however, thinking and actually doing are two different subject areas. If you are completely honest with yourself, you know what is best for the children. The following advice will help you confirm whether keeping the children or arranging visitation is best for you and the family.

Do you have mental problems and/or battling with substance abuse? Whether you are undergoing treatment or are quietly struggling with your demons, you need to think of how the stress of raising your children may affect you. The reality is that your burdens will not get any lighter keeping the children. If anything they will become heavy, very heavy. Reflect on how their negative behavior impacted you during the marriage and how both you and your spouse handled the children when these issues arose. Know what you can tolerate and honestly look at how you do or don't discipline your children. Read about parenting issues and seek counseling for the things you don't understand.

How would you rate your finances on a five-point scale? If managing your finances is not one of your strong suits than consider getting counseling. Raising children requires skillful budgeting if you want them to have a great future. Know how to save emergency money, funds for education, clothes and shoes, food, and shelter.

Do you have a stable employment history? If not, then now is the time to consider creating one. No judge will award children to someone who can't keep a job.

Do you plan on relocating? When you plan on keeping children, you also have to consider that you will not be moving anytime soon as well if they are already enrolled in school. Relocating is difficult for all parties involved and children don't always do well when they have to adjust to a new environment and develop new friends.

How is the school district where you live as compared to the one your former spouse lives in? Know what the educational system in your area has to offer. Low school test scores, inadequate funding for books and extracurricular activities, and rising crime are reasons not to take the children unless you plan on relocating.

Do you have a support system? Family, babysitters, childcare, after school programs, church and more are essential in helping your children become productive members in society. Without positive people around them, they will surely get themselves involved with the wrong crowd. Be certain that you can provide them with much needed love and support from the community.

Are you still holding grudges with the former spouse? If past unresolved issues between you and your mate are still affecting you presently, then you will need to find a way to be at peace. If not, your negative influence will rub off on the children resulting in friction between them and their father and mother. No matter how much you think the mother or father needs to be punished for breaking up the marriage, it gives you no right to use the children to get even.

How would people around you describe you? Teaching children requires a high degree of patience, if you know that you can fly off the handle over just waiting in line, then you may want to think strongly about taking on the daily responsibility of caring for the children. Yelling at them for not understanding their homework or punishing them because they can't seem to complete tasks you ask them to do correctly will not help their self esteem in the short term and cause greater distance between you both in the long term. If you find that everyone keeps telling you the same thing about yourself such as "you are so negative. Why must you be so bitter? Why are you so angry all the time?" Be honest with yourself, it is better for the children to visit you until you can put your emotions in check.

Are you really happy about being a parent? The truth of the matter there are many parents who never really accepted the news that they are the proud parent of a child. It bothered them the day they found out they were pregnant and it continues to bother them long after. If you find yourself complaining a lot about your children being a "problem" and they are "keeping you away from achieving your goals," then you do not want to take on the responsibility of caring for them on a regular basis. You will regret it, because you haven't come to terms with the reality that you are a parent.

When no one is looking, how do you really treat your children? Anyone can smile at those around them and brag how much they love their children, but when you are by yourself with your children you know how you can get with them. If you are calling them names, physically assaulting them (we aren't talking spankings either), yell at them often, put off feeding them for long periods of time, leave them home alone knowing you are breaking the law, and dropping them off with whoever you can whenever, then you know that you can't simply handle raising them. Don't make yourself do something you know you aren't equipped to do no matter what anyone tells you. The person who is telling you what to do is most likely unavailable to help you raise the children - do what you know is right and if you know that the other parent can do a better job then let them. Your children will be grateful that you did, rather than take them through unnecessary heartache. In the future, you just may have a greater bond with your children because you made the sacrifice.

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7 Tips on Keeping Your Child Safe from Touching Games

"Boys will be boys," so some, who like to excuse offensive behavior, will say. But being a boy doesn't excuse assault, harassment, and sexual advances toward girls. However, we hear the stories in the media of boys who felt that it was okay to touch girls and at times were severely punished because of it. So what happens when it is your child? Your daughter comes to you and tells you, "Mom (Dad) there was a boy at school who put his hands on my breast and touched my backside." How would you handle it?

I had been that nine year old in a new school where boys didn't see it as nothing more than a game to touch a girl's private parts. They would target something they wanted to feel and tell their friends. Then they would hit the unlucky girl and take off running. Later, they would tell their friends whether the girl was okay with it or not. I was the one who fought back. Word traveled fast that I was mean. "Don't touch her," I would hear them say. "She is mean." That's right at nine years old my mother taught me if a boy touched you inappropriately you fight and you tell your teacher and if she didn't do anything about it, my mother was going up to my school. However, some parents didn't teach their children. I would see some of these girls deliberately sticking their breasts out or behinds playing a game of "catch me if you can!" I remember feeling sick to my stomach and a fear at times going to school, because I knew that if too many boys circled me I was doomed, but I told myself I would fight as best I could. Thank God I never got caught in the circle, but I couldn't feel sorry for the ones who did get caught, because I saw them laughing and smiling while taunting and teasing the boys before it happened. Their parents hadn't taught them any better. By the time we reached high school these same girls were pregnant before they reached 18 and by the time we all reached 25 they had already 4 or more children. I also would have to mention that there was either a mother's boyfriend or no dad in these girl's households.

So here I was at nine years old living in a strict household and never being exposed to soft porn behavior until I went to school. So I hear, things haven't changed since the eighties, they have only gotten worse. Now I have an eight and nine year old and they have told me stories about girls who are trying to kiss them. They have seen and heard stories of both girls and boys playing games that would make your jaws drop! So I asked them "Where was your teacher? Where was your daycare provider, did you tell someone?" They would answer, "She was busy." or "I told her and she said okay." So it was then that I thought, "What should parents be doing to prepare their children for the 'if you show me yours, I will show you mine' games?" So the following is what I have come up with based on personal experience as a girl, a woman, and a mom with sons.

First, as soon as your child tells you something strange has happened to them and they are obviously looking uncomfortable or maybe they don't come right out and tell you, but ask questions such as "What is sex?" You need not act offended, angry or behave like an attorney. This is when your child needs you to listen to them like a friend, noticed I said like a friend, I didn't say be his or her friend. You need to ask follow up questions slowly. "Well how did it make you feel when you saw the boy (or girl) acting like that?" Then listen to how your child responds. Next, lead in with a story of your own that made you feel uncomfortable before you tell them what they ought to say or do. Explain to them how the situation was handled by your mom and dad and how you felt about it. Your child may not want you to do anything about what they have shared with you for fear or embarrassment. So you will want to make them feel at ease about what they have shared with you while assuring them that you don't want them to get in trouble or lose friends, then thank them for sharing. Also, reward them for telling the truth, but behind their backs you get down to the bottom of this mess. What is really going on at the school playgrounds, in the coat room, back of the class, dark hallway, the bedroom of the childcare provider, back yard or behind the couch?

Next, you need to take a serious look at their surroundings as listed previously. Are there places at the school or daycare that make you feel uncomfortable as a parent? Are too many children hanging out in the tunnels on the playground far too long? What about the big oak tree or under the sliding board? Some home daycare providers have far too many places for children to act mischievous. They can also have way too many cable channels that they are turning through to get to your child's favorite children's show and so your child could be exposed to shows by accident or on purpose. He or she may see something in between channel changes that they shouldn't be seeing (of course you may be guilty of this yourself.) Music videos and teen movies tend to have way too much kissing, touching, and sexual dancing. A little girl will want to emulate the women she sees moving and gyrating. They are tall, pretty, wear beautiful clothes and jewelry. Why wouldn't they want to be like them? When you see your daughter imitating their dance moves, praise should be the last thing that any parent should be doing, but if you do a quick search on you will see many parents doing just that. Then they wonder why their little angel is pregnant, abused, misused and the like by age 14, 15, 16. Boys will be boys so they say, but that is no excuse and girls will be girls, but teasing boys is not what any girl should be doing.

Third, know who your children admire. Many little girls and boys have a great deal of respect for older children. So when you entrust your child into the hands of an older child, be prepared for them to no longer want to act their age; instead, they will want to act like the big girl or big boy they know. When your young child is cared for by an older child who grew up way too fast themselves, you are putting your child at risk for acting in ways that are inappropriate. Then you will want to discipline them for behavior you could have prevented yourself.

Oftentimes children will not want to get anyone in trouble for fear they may lose friends, so if you notice your child isn't as talkative when you bring up certain subjects, doesn't want to hug you like they once did, and other signs they are withdrawing from you, you will want to find out what is causing this change in their behavior. Start a conversation with them and if they seem unresponsive, looking away, or responding to your questions with short answers, you know they have something to hide.

Fourth, at some point, you will want to take some time away from work and start reacquainting yourself with your child. Just like couples need time together to enhance their relationships, parents need to learn how to take some time away from work and spend it with their children. The weekend doesn't always provide enough time to find out what is really going on in their lives as well as enhance the parental bond. You will be surprised at what you will find out. I learned a lot when I sat down each day with my children in their environment (not my bedroom or office space I wanted them to feel comfortable) read a book or watched a movie with them, and took them to places. I will tell you that if you read the Bible with them, you will find some subjects that will stimulate conversations about violence, adultery, how men treat women, etc. I was fascinated at how much knowledge they already had about these issues in life. One of my sons at eight years old told me, one day while reading the Bible, he thought a man having more than one wife was wrong. I didn't tell him whether it was right or wrong he figured it out on his own and I agreed with him. Both sons thought that men fighting and killing one another was also wrong. Yet, when they have told me stories about what their friends have said their friends acted as if it was okay. Children pay attention more to what adults do than what they say. Now for some parents the Bible may not be something you would like to use, to each their own, but there are plenty of books out there that are age appropriate and discuss sensitive subject matter. Don't underestimate your children, because most likely they already know plenty and whether we want to face the truth or not, it may have already been your child, your neighbor's child or my child in the coat room, under the slide, or behind the oak tree.

Fifth, interview your child's teachers and daycare providers who are so busy that they are "unaware that this had happened" maybe they need a second set of eyes, rearrange the classroom, get a light bulb in the dark hallway or do something else to ensure that the children are not able to get away with playing these "touch" games. I remember times as a child when playground staff had been so busy socializing with one another that they didn't bother to pay attention to the two children holding hands or the long line of girls waiting to kiss a handsome boy.

Sixth, when an offense happens to your child make a stink about it! Document what happened as told to you by your child, make copies, meet with the administration, and if necessary file charges with the police. That's right file charges. There are parents who say they will handle the matter with their child and they don't and little sassy Sandy and fresh little Frank are still going around school thinking about who they can bother next. The key is to put a stop to this kind of behavior immediately and the only way you can do that is by sounding a loud alarm by embarrassing some folks, or as one mother told me, "Put the business out in the street!"

Lastly, when it is all said and done, you may have to transfer your child to a new school depending on how bad, how frequent, and how the administration chooses to handle or not handle the matter. Let's face it, some schools are simply better than others, and why should you have to keep your child in a school that is not doing the best it can to ensure your child is being educated about reading, writing and arithmetic rather than the birds and the bees on a daily basis.

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Signs Your Little Boy is Having a Gender Identity Crisis

Some psychologists say a male child will question whether he wants to be a boy or girl as young as 18 months old. So with knowing this, how do you determine whether your son prefers being more like mommy than daddy? The following signs will help you answer that question. If you find he is behaving in a way that makes the hair on the back of your neck stand up, it is time to reevaluate your parenting. Find books on the subject of gender identity and seek counseling.

Dress up

One. If your son is a toddler, when the girls are playing dress up, is he participating with them and what is he choosing to wear? If he prefers the dresses over the cowboy hats and you find that he is regularly choosing them, are you finding other items for him to play with that will distract him? If he is beyond the toddler years, why is he still playing dress up with little girls?

Rough and Tumble Play

Two. When "the going gets tough, the tough get going" so the saying goes. So when the boys are being physical such as running, jumping, and playing sports, what is your child doing? Now this is a tricky area to use to make your determination since there are many boys who rather play in ways that don't require physical activity. If he is avoiding the rough play and rather play with blocks, cars, reading a book, or building a rocket than he just may be smart and would rather not take a chance on getting hurt. You will have to include other signs with this one to be certain he has a problem.

Wigs, Lipstick and Women's Clothing

Three. Any boy who prefers to parade around in his mother's wig, decorate his lips with her lip gloss, and drape himself with her clothes and jewels when it isn't Halloween, you need to find out what is going on with him. He may secretly wish he was you, maybe his sister, or some other female relative or family friend. Talk to your child and again find a distraction that he may find more interesting than dancing around in women's clothes.


Four. When a boy begins to talk with a higher pitch so that he sounds more feminine, you will need to find out who he is around that may be influencing this sort of behavior. He may be around more women than men. If he is making hand gestures and body movements that you or others deem is "acting feminine," that is a clear indication that someone, maybe even you, is telling him in what you say and do that this behavior is acceptable.


Five. Some boys have way more girlfriends than guy friends, but if he doesn't call any one of these girls his "girlfriend" there may be a variety of reasons. This is also another one of those tricky areas, but look for one of the other signs coupled with this one. If your son is nearing a dating age and he never mentions a girl he may want to date or only mentions one because you bring up the topic, you may want to observe more in the way that he behaves with his male friends. Try the process of elimination when reaching a conclusion. For instance, he isn't affiliated with a religion, he isn't unattractive, he isn't a loner, guys don't make fun of him, and most of all he doesn't seem to act feminine, could it be that he just isn't interested in girls for now or forever?

Those "Feelings"

Six. We all have had those feelings at some point in our lives whether it was the tingle sensation we felt inside our bodies after watching two people kiss or dreaming about someone we wish would be our boyfriend or girlfriend. He may have come to you and tried to talk about some new functions of his private parts or what some boy or man told him or done to him that made him feel uncomfortable, but you may be ignoring him. Stop what you are doing when he speaks and ask questions such as "Is there something that is bothering you? Has someone talked to you about private parts? Did you see something on television that made you feel funny inside? Did someone show you a naked child, woman or man in a photo? Your neighbor, babysitter, relative or someone in school could be having conversations with him that is making him feel strange, weird or distant. Don't take a simple no for an answer, probe for more information in the most polite and kindest way possible. This way he will be more likely to confide in you. However, remember the person filling his head up with negativity may have theatened him not to tell, so be sensitive when speaking with him about his feelings.

He would like to be a girl

Seven. He has told everyone he knows he wants to be a girl, because they have long hair, have better toys, look more attractive, nicer or whatever other reason he thinks why it is better to be a girl rather than a boy. You will need to question what his relationship with his father during those crucial years from 18 months to ten years has been like. You will also need to evaluate your own relationship with your son. Are you keeping him inside the home with you when he rather go outside and play with the boys? Do you find you are spending more time parenting him than working on your own relationship between you and your mate? Are you not allowing him to be a boy, because you want him to do and say what you want and not what he wants? If this describes you, it's time for you to encourage a relationship with his father or the male figures in his life whom he respects and admires. These men and older boys who you know should exemplify positive character traits. Alcoholics, drug abusers, emotionally unavailable and unstable men or boys as well as feminine acting ones don't count. Be sure you are not prohibiting him to relate with others due to your own insecurities, fears, jealousy or other unresolved issues. You may need to seek counseling yourself.

Some suggestions you can do today to help him identify with his gender include the following:

Encourage father and son relationship. In some cases a father doesn't exist, but any positive male role model can help. Encourage these men you know (who don't have gender problems) to throw and catch a ball, go to a sporting event or do something that captivates your son's interest. Ask these men to converse with your son about whether he understands and accepts his gender.

Be a good role model for your son. Allow him to see the positive qualities within you such as being confident, supportive, caring, sensitive and more. Rather than strict, mean, angry, and impatient on a frequent basis.

Don't bad mouth men. Avoid talking negatively about the father and other men to your son. Don't confide in your son about the negative aspects of your relationship with his father.

Don't make your son the man of the house. Your son is your child not your mate; therefore, don't look to him to fulfill the needs you are seeking from your significant.

When you allow your son to behave in ways that you know society will crucify him, you are setting him up for all sorts of problems later in his life. There are many confused little boys who have later grown up to become bitter men because parents, relatives and so-called family friends have seriously wounded them and no one thought twice to ask questions or answer their son's cry for help. It isn't okay for any man or boy to do or say things that have historically been considered feminine. Parents are responsible for building the foundation that will assist their sons in discovering whether they prefer to be a boy or girl. Without a loving, caring, and supportive atmosphere, he will want to be everything you don't want him to be, so seek professional help, if necessary, before it's too late.

For more articles by Nicholl McGuire
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