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Forum -> Parenting our children -> School age children
S/o At what age do girls feel the need for privacy?
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amother
OP


 

Post Mon, May 20 2024, 6:03 am
Something I've been wondering about for a while. I've noticed that a girl's need for privacy often comes after a parent's feeling that it's time for them to feel that they need privacy.

In other words, I think it's normal for an elementary schooler to sit around in a way that shows her underwear, even though it feels to most adults like she should be "old enough" not to. My 8.5 yo daughter will even do this without underwear on (like after a bath, when she put on a nightgown but didn't get around to putting her underwear on yet) even in front of unrelated kids/adults.

She also thinks it's fine to walk around the house without clothes on, or maybe just with underwear on, even when her older brothers are around.

Even outside, in public, she will pick up her shirt/dress, almost as a fidget, with no thoughts of making sure that her underwear/upper chest are covered.

I wonder how important it is for parents to lay gentle boundaries in this area, and how much we should not make a big deal about it since she'll grow out of it eventually anyway. I remember seeing my niece (now a teen) constantly getting reprimanded by her mother about showing her underwear (or more!) Up until now I've tried to lay gentle boundaries, I bought her a robe if she doesn't feel like getting dressed but wants to wander around the house...but I'm wondering if it's worth making this into a fight since she doesn't seem to be getting it and doesn't have any internal sense of shame at this point...but she will, I'm assuming, at some point.
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amother
Bronze


 

Post Mon, May 20 2024, 6:05 am
Your 8.5 year old feels comfortable walking around undressed or in underwear in front of guests?
That’s old in my opinion.
As a guest I would be uncomfortable.
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amother
Azure


 

Post Mon, May 20 2024, 6:05 am
By the age of 9 most kids start developing their need for privacy.

I have a 5 year old and she is happy to run around naked.

I dont let her because she has older brothers but I also dont force her to wear shorts every time shes playing and her dress goes up. Theres a balance.
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amother
Peachpuff


 

Post Mon, May 20 2024, 6:09 am
I do insist on fully covering in public. But at home among just you it will happen naturally. For many it’s not until puberty starts.
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amother
Azalea


 

Post Mon, May 20 2024, 6:50 am
I think it’s a really good question. I also have an 8 year old. Part of it is that she doesn’t completely feel a need for privacy and part of it is that she’s not fully aware of her body and what people can see, the same way some adults don’t realize that when they sit wearing a tight skirt, you can see straight up their legs. Ex- dd is very particular about locking the door to her room when she’s changing but when she leaves the shower, she’ll kind of drape her towel over her and basically leave everything exposed (she’s getting better about it but still forgets sometimes.) She also lifts up her skirt when she sits and her underwear would totally show the whole time if she wasn’t wearing shorts.

To answer your question, I think it’s appropriate to enforce covering up without criticizing or making a big deal out of it. Shorts under a skirt are automatic. Never walking around naked (I hate that, even with my toddlers.) Wearing at least a minimum of clothes when others are around. Also, these things apply to my boys too. I don’t let ds hang out on the couch in his underwear, especially if there are guests around.

Those are the type of rules I have, whether they feel the need for that level of privacy or not. Truth is, sometimes they need reminders but it’s never been a fight. Eventually their body awareness and desire for privacy catches up with them and it all becomes automatic.
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amother
OP


 

Post Mon, May 20 2024, 7:36 am
amother Bronze wrote:
Your 8.5 year old feels comfortable walking around undressed or in underwear in front of guests?
That’s old in my opinion.
As a guest I would be uncomfortable.


Honestly, we're not a home that has a lot of guests, even extended family, so I'm not sure.

But like when she's coming out of the shower to her room (right down the hall), she'd be fine with just walking out without even a towel on her. Yeah, maybe her brothers will be there, but that doesn't bother her. And how would she know if one of them had a friend over (again, that's not common, especially near the bedrooms)? SHe gives me such a hard time about it...She'll even argue that she should be able to wear a towel wrapped around her waist like her 10 year old brother does (only on the way out of the shower, and no, I don't love that either). She doesn't have older sisters, only older brothers, so maybe it makes sense that she doesn't realize there's a difference? And her teenage brothers come out of the shower wearing at least an undershirt and shorts/pants. I did speak with her about how the places that are covered by a bathing suit are private, and girls' bathing suits cover more...

She'll hang out playing in her room (when she's supposed to be getting dressed) with no clothes on until I "catch" her and remind her to get dressed, and that's with her door wide open and her younger siblings running in and out.

And yes, she's typically developing in every other way. Is this not age appropriate? And whether it is or isn't, is there anything I can or should do about it, or should I Just leave it and she'll outgrow it?
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amother
Powderblue


 

Post Mon, May 20 2024, 7:54 am
I believe Chinuch in tznius should start when the child is young. Like 2/3. Or maybe even younger, because the child sees what's considered appropriate in the house by older family members.

If your daughter isn't getting it, you will have to create house rules and spell them out.

In my opinion in a typical yeshivish home-
---- A 5 year old girl realizes that when she changes her clothes, she does it in her room or the bathroom, with the door closed. Maybe her sister who is 0-8 is in the room with her, but then she changes in a way where her underwear may be exposed but not the skin underneath it.

---- An 8 year old girl will start bathing on her own, or only asking for help with making sure shampoo and conditioner are out. She doesn't change in front of her sisters, and will lock the door when changing
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amother
OP


 

Post Mon, May 20 2024, 8:15 am
amother Powderblue wrote:
I believe Chinuch in tznius should start when the child is young. Like 2/3. Or maybe even younger, because the child sees what's considered appropriate in the house by older family members.

If your daughter isn't getting it, you will have to create house rules and spell them out.

In my opinion in a typical yeshivish home-
---- A 5 year old girl realizes that when she changes her clothes, she does it in her room or the bathroom, with the door closed. Maybe her sister who is 0-8 is in the room with her, but then she changes in a way where her underwear may be exposed but not the skin underneath it.

---- An 8 year old girl will start bathing on her own, or only asking for help with making sure shampoo and conditioner are out. She doesn't change in front of her sisters, and will lock the door when changing


And if she's not getting it? If you know that making these rules will create power struggles? We are yeshivish but live OOT so she's with a mix of girls from different hashkafos, and in a school that doesn't emphasize tznius at this age (which I'm fine with, but it makes this trickier to deal with).

I just remembered, last summer they changed into bathing suits "the tznius way" in camp, and she suddenly didn't want to go into her room to change at all, wanted to change out in the living room/playroom "the tznius way" and kept asking me what on earth could be wrong with it? I tried explaining that changing is something we do in private, and that they only did that in camp because there weren't enough rooms for all the girls to change in, but she didn't like that answer...which makes sense! She doesn't get why there's a difference between brothers and sisters in terms of changing in front of them, and why should she?

She does take a shower on her own (although she's scared to turn on the hot water herself, so dh or I get the water at the right temp for her -- not a battle I'm fighting at this point). She comes out on her own but refuses to bring her clothes into the bathroom so she can change in there. She says she'll wear a robe from the bathroom into her room, but often doesn't if she thinks I won't see, and then she forgets to close the door of her room when she changes. If I notice (say I'm sitting on the floor and helping her younger sister get dressed in the room), she sighs dramatically, waltzes over the door slowly, and closes it. Like it's annoying but she'll do it if I insist.

She is very close with her brother who is a couple of years older than her, and they play together (and with the older boys) all the time, which I'm fine with. Board games, card games...but with the two of them it can deteriorate into physical play, which they know that I'm not okay with. I don't mean playing catch or doing carwheels together, I mean literally one of them climbing on the other one. It's all in fun, I'm not at all suspecting anything intentional, I know they have no clue why I feel so strongly about it, but I think most adults would feel uncomfortable seeing some of their physical games, even though as kids they are innocent and have no clue...

Is it really so abnormal for a girl not to have a natural realization at this age about privacy? Or are many other girls like this? And if there are many other girls in this boat, how do you approach it, as a mother who isn't interested in shaming them or making tznius into something negative, but who feels that privacy is important?
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amother
Azalea


 

Post Mon, May 20 2024, 8:31 am
amother OP wrote:


Is it really so abnormal for a girl not to have a natural realization at this age about privacy? Or are many other girls like this? And if there are many other girls in this boat, how do you approach it, as a mother who isn't interested in shaming them or making tznius into something negative, but who feels that privacy is important?


I don’t think it’s abnormal and I don’t have an answer. Is she extra sensory in any way?
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tichellady




 
 
    
 

Post Mon, May 20 2024, 8:36 am
Sounds normal to me. I would just accept that it will click for her at some point
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amother
Peachpuff


 

Post Mon, May 20 2024, 8:37 am
If you push too hard you will give her body issues. It’s fine. All my kids reached the point naturally some at 11 and it’s totally fine.
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amother
OP


 

Post Mon, May 20 2024, 9:32 am
Nope, not sensory. Would love more posters with a bunch of girls to tell me if it's normal. Somehow I didn't have this issue with my boys.

So to those of you who are saying that it's normal and you would accept it, or wouldn't push too hard...What does that look like? Obviously I shouldn't be yelling at her or lecturing at her about it. But can I lay down some guidelines like an earlier poster said? Or is that too much?

Should I say anything if she's sitting with her underwear showing (I don't mind that her legs are apart and theoretically you could see it, I mean literally sitting with her skirt hiked up around her waist)? Would it be better for me to just motion discretely for her to pull her skirt down? Or should I ignore it?

Should I emphasize that at least she should close the door while changing, even if she's sitting around with no clothes on?

Should I stay on top of her more and walk her through the changing routine to make sure that she gets all of her clothes on relatively quickly so that we don't run into so many issues, or is that pushing too hard? Seems weird to do that with an 8 year old, we generally let her do these things herself, only rushing her if it's time to go to sleep, etc.

And what about roughhousing with her older brother? Does this cross a line? Right now we've been responding pretty strongly to it, and dh feels even more strongly about it than I do.

Any advice would be welcome...feel like I'm out of my league here.
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amother
Electricblue


 

Post Mon, May 20 2024, 9:46 am
First of all, girls need to wear shorts over their underwear so if their skirts go up or they're sitting with everything showing, you don't see much. I don't know why it's normal in certain parts of the USA that girls go upside down in a park with underwear showing.
I have a few kids and one did not get this whole concept till 10.5/11. And I didn't say anything besides buy shorts. By 10ish we started saying no naked walking around after shower, cover yourself with a towel. At 11 I started saying, let's sit properly. Another kid has awareness from the age of 6 on her own so I didn't have to say anything.
Have patience, they will get it one day on their own and not want you to see them naked. Some kids get it later and that's ok.
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tulip3




 
 
    
 

Post Mon, May 20 2024, 9:47 am
amother OP wrote:
Nope, not sensory. Would love more posters with a bunch of girls to tell me if it's normal. Somehow I didn't have this issue with my boys.

So to those of you who are saying that it's normal and you would accept it, or wouldn't push too hard...What does that look like? Obviously I shouldn't be yelling at her or lecturing at her about it. But can I lay down some guidelines like an earlier poster said? Or is that too much?

Should I say anything if she's sitting with her underwear showing (I don't mind that her legs are apart and theoretically you could see it, I mean literally sitting with her skirt hiked up around her waist)? Would it be better for me to just motion discretely for her to pull her skirt down? Or should I ignore it?

Should I emphasize that at least she should close the door while changing, even if she's sitting around with no clothes on?

Should I stay on top of her more and walk her through the changing routine to make sure that she gets all of her clothes on relatively quickly so that we don't run into so many issues, or is that pushing too hard? Seems weird to do that with an 8 year old, we generally let her do these things herself, only rushing her if it's time to go to sleep, etc.

And what about roughhousing with her older brother? Does this cross a line? Right now we've been responding pretty strongly to it, and dh feels even more strongly about it than I do.

Any advice would be welcome...feel like I'm out of my league here.


Why does the rough housing bother you so much? She's not 14 and sitting on top of a boy...she's a little kid having fun with another person who's her brother who happens to be a boy.
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amother
OP


 

Post Mon, May 20 2024, 9:49 am
amother Electricblue wrote:
First of all, girls need to wear shorts over their underwear so if their skirts go up or they're sitting with everything showing, you don't see much. I don't know why it's normal in certain parts of the USA that girls go upside down in a park with underwear showing.
I have a few kids and one did not get this whole concept till 10.5/11. And I didn't say anything besides buy shorts. By 10ish we started saying no naked walking around after shower, cover yourself with a towel. At 11 I started saying, let's sit properly. Another kid has awareness from the age of 6 on her own so I didn't have to say anything.
Have patience, they will get it one day on their own and not want you to see them naked. Some kids get it later and that's ok.


Interesting. So girls who wear uniform jumpers/skirts wear shorts under them? And under Shabbos dresses? And nightgowns?

I've just never come across this concept before.
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amother
Chestnut


 

Post Mon, May 20 2024, 9:51 am
I never had much body awareness at that age. I think I saw my body as being functional, not something that anyone would be interested in looking at. Clothes kept me warm, and sometimes were a nuisance and sometimes looked nice, and were generally a necessary evil. As long as they were there, I wasn't really interested in what they covered or failed to cover.

Once a family came to stay, and I had always shared a room with their son (a year younger than me) when we weer little. My mother commented that we would have to find somewhere else for him to sleep, and I genuinely didn't understand why, or what had changed.

I think when girls begun to physically develop is maybe when they become more body conscious. As a child, its hard to understand the differences.
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amother
OP


 

Post Mon, May 20 2024, 9:52 am
tulip3 wrote:
Why does the rough housing bother you so much? She's not 14 and sitting on top of a boy...she's a little kid having fun with another person who's her brother who happens to be a boy.


So on that one I'm more responding to dh, who is usually pretty chilled about things. He feels very strongly that it's not appropriate, and I don't think it's coming from a hashkafic place...

I mean things like wrestling, grabbing all over each other while rolling on the floor to get to get the other one to drop something (in play), tickling each other all over their bodies (not just stomach) to try to get the other one to laugh, things like that. Not things like playing tag or whatever.

I dunno, my gut isn't sure whether it's completely fine or something that needs to be stopped. I've been deferring to dh on it until now...
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amother
Teal


 

Post Mon, May 20 2024, 10:03 am
Nope I am very against it. My daughter will not be caught in a dress or skirt without shorts underneath until she learns how to act like a lady. I won’t tell her how to sit or play but I make sure she’s covered. I don’t need creeps or weirdos looking at my baby girl.
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Elfrida




 
 
    
 

Post Mon, May 20 2024, 10:05 am
amother OP wrote:
So on that one I'm more responding to dh, who is usually pretty chilled about things. He feels very strongly that it's not appropriate, and I don't think it's coming from a hashkafic place...

I mean things like wrestling, grabbing all over each other while rolling on the floor to get to get the other one to drop something (in play), tickling each other all over their bodies (not just stomach) to try to get the other one to laugh, things like that. Not things like playing tag or whatever.

I dunno, my gut isn't sure whether it's completely fine or something that needs to be stopped. I've been deferring to dh on it until now...


I remember talking to a friend who had the same issue with her children. It made her feel uncomfortable, but she made a decision to ignore it.

If she said that's not allowed, the immediate, and logical, question would be why not? Saying that girls and boys don't play together like that isn't a helpful answer, and immediately pathologises the situation. She wasn't willing to give a detailed answer. Right now it is innocent fun, and she didn't want the children thinking what else it could be.

They'll almost certainly grow out of it in the next couple of years. If not, then tou have to think about how to intervene.

I remember a three year old once explaining to me the difference between girls and boys. 'Boys have a haircut and get a kippah and tzitzit. Girls have long hair and get pretty dresses.' Your eight year old daughter probably has a similar (age appropriate) grasp of the difference, and is minimally aware of physical differences. Her body is very similar to that of her younger brother. It's hard to see why they should be treated so differently.
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amother
Brunette


 

Post Mon, May 20 2024, 10:06 am
A typical kid starts to want privacy around 3 for the bathroom. Around 9 they won't get undress in front of others. That's when sense of self starts from my experience. Kids without awareness won't have this. My 12 year old is autistic high functioning and doesn't really have this. Around immediate family she doesn't care. Around extended family we have taught her to be careful. I suspect Around 15-17 she will start caring being socially/emotionally she is still younger.
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