You've given your child a bath nearly every day of her life. You've gathered her things as she stripped to her undies and ran through a sprinkler on a hot day. So why is she suddenly locking the bathroom door and shrieking, "Don't look at me!" when you catch her changing clothes?
Modesty surfaces at this age for a number of reasons, most notably because of kids' heightened awareness of their (and other people's) bodies. A child starts to notice the physical differences between boys and girls. He may also begin comparing how he stacks up against other -- often older -- kids of the same gender, which could make him sensitive about his own body.
Six- to 8-year-olds also sense a change in the attitude of adults around them. Parents who used to let them run around the house barely dressed now ask them to cover up. "Most of us become more sensitive about a child's nudity as she gets older, even if we're not aware of it," says Vanessa Jensen, PsyD, a pediatric psychologist at the Children's Hospital of the Cleveland Clinic, in Ohio.
Grade-schoolers also want to feel like big kids who can take care of themselves. Hiding their bodies from others is one way they assert their growing desire for independence. Still, these sudden boundaries can present a difficult adjustment for moms and dads, who may feel excluded and have a hard time knowing how to react. These tips will help guide you and your child through this transitional time.
Your child may demand more privacy these days, but don't expect much in return. Chances are she thinks nothing of barging in on you in the bathroom or bedroom. But if you routinely walk around the house in your underwear or get dressed in front of your child, there's good reason to start covering up now. By age 7 or 8, he may be embarrassed to see you or your spouse naked (a telltale sign: Your child may giggle or turn away from you).
If your child is waiting for you outside the shower, it's fine to carry on a conversation, but put on a robe before you come out. You can also consider locking the door when you're using the bathroom or getting dressed.
These items will give your child the space she needs.
Copyright ? 2006. Reprinted with permission from the September 2006 issue of Parents magazine.