This is a jerky question, but is there somewhere to look to see what counts as abuse?

Discussion in 'General Parenting' started by agee, Apr 26, 2010.

  1. agee

    agee Guest

    Don't worry - I'm not smacking difficult child around or tying him in a crate or anything.
    Here's the story: this afternoon on the way home from school he pulled his penis out of his pants and was waving it around. I found this really inappropriate, and once I turned into our super rural, untrafficked, 1/4 mile road, I told him to get out of the car and walk the rest of the way home. I usually use this punishment for him AND his brother when they are fighting. I've never done it for just him. It's a punishment that does me more good than them, probably - when the 2 are fighting I tell them I don't want to listen to it anymore. Typically they've been fighting and fighting and fighting and have been warned and it's my final punishment.
    In this case, it was all I could think of at that moment. I had a crappy morning, he acted ridiculous when I picked him up, he behaved poorly at school, and the penis thing was the last straw. I really just wanted him away from me.
    He got out of the car and I drove the rest of the way home. He took forever to come over the crest of the hill. I waited and waited on my porch, then remembered that someone from the Sheriff's office lives on my street and started to panic that I was somehow breaking some law.
    I just got in my car to see what he was doing when he came over the crest of the hill. He was just dawdling...
    Anyway, I guess I want to make sure that if I do this again I won't get in trouble for it! Sometimes I really just need to be away from him!
    I know this is a jerky question, but still...
  2. smallworld

    smallworld Moderator

    What are the laws in your state about leaving a 7-year-old alone and for how long?

    In my state, it's not allowed (not until age 8) so it might be considered child endangerment.

    You need to do your homework.
  3. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    Well, having done my share of no-no's, I can commiserate. ;)
    In regard to abuse, all I can say is look it up online, if you can figure out how to use your state's website.
    When he's calm, can you sit down and talk to him about how inappropriate he was, and that you reacted the same way anyone would, by not wanting to be with him? Actions speak louder than words and clearly, your actions showed that he was not fit company.
    One time won't get you arrested. It's parents who go out drinking and leave their toddlers home alone that ought to be shot, in my humble opinion. Soc Svcs has their hands full with-parents like that. :mad:
  4. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    The law will vary from place to place. So frankly, don't ever assume anything.

    For example, we went on holiday to NZ just as they brought in a "no smacking" law. That law still stands. If we had been seen smacking difficult child 3 while we were there, we could have found ourselves being prosecuted.

    With this sort of problem behaviour, I always let the punishment fit the crime. I' not sure what I would do for 'indecent exposure' and frankly, you didn't have time to think of anything creative. If he had been older (such as an adult male) then laughing at it would work. Or saying, "That reminds me, I have to buy toothpicks on the way home."
    But a child?

    Short of saying, "Put it away, it's not anything to be proud of," or "It's too little to be out in this weather, keep it covered up or it will catch cold," I'm not sure what else you could do.

    Paint it blue, perhaps?

    It depends on what sort of reaction you think he was wanting. If he was trying for shock, then never act shocked. If he was trying for a laugh, then don't make jokes. Acting superior or bored is often the best way - he needs to be shamed into putting it away. Not tat nudity is shameful, only if it's inappropriate. It's the behaviour that is the problem, not the body part itself.

    Perhaps a sort of, "Dear, put it away. It's not good manners to be waving it about."

    If you feel you want to treat it lightly, you could talk to him and say, "Why did you feel it was right to do that?"
    If he says he was just fooling around, explain how a lot of people find seeing someone's penis is offensive. It's not a good habit to get into, even if other kids do it (which is probably where he got the idea - boys playing around behind the sheds at school will 'compare notes' like this). Tell him only little kids do this, at Kindergarten level. Those who keep doing it will find the other kids eventually will be laughing at them behind their backs, and you don't want him to be the kid being laughed at in this way. It's not the same as friends laughing together when they're having fun. It's a play habit among boys that has to stop sooner rather than later, and he can be the hero here and be the first to say to his friends, "Brothers, it's time to put childish things away."

    He could find himself being laughed at for being undersized. Or if he is larger than average, he could find others jealous of him and then taking it out on him in other ways. And really, size is not important, unless it is so big or so small as to bring its own problems.

    After all - is a finger funny? A nose? An eye? Why then, wave around a part of the body usually kept covered?

    I do think it's a talking out situation.

    But for misbehaviour in the car - I also have threatened to put my kids out to walk. But whatever threat you make, you must follow through.

    So what we often ended up doing - I'd stop the car, and we would not continue until the problem had been resolved. Often I was driving the kids somewhere they had to be, so it was their bad behaviour making us late.

    I also used to carry a red plastic fly swat in the car and hit kids with it if they misbehaved. It is a bright colour, it makes a loud swishing sound, it is an obvious reminder of punishment and it rarely caused any discomfort. But it worked brilliantly!

    However as I said to begin with - rules vary form place to place. Also from time to time.

    Good luck with this one.

    Boys, eh?

  5. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    I have no idea what is considered abuse or not, BUT I think that leaving him along is probably dangerous, especially since he is a difficult child. Somebody could kidnap him. I know i Know...they'd give him Seriously, though, it's probably best to get your space after you get him and having him go to a quiet room. I don't think he was being "bad." That is so inappropriate that I'm thinking he doesn't even know simple social rules. The first thing I would have done is to call the psychiatrist with the child safely in his room. That is serious behavior. Do you know if he was sexually abused before he came to you?
  6. busywend

    busywend Well-Known Member Staff Member

    Do you have 7 year olds that walk to school a 1/4 mile? If so, then I think you are OK.

    I personally think it is brilliant. He probably picked up every rock and threw every stick he saw on the way home. Probably did not think about what he did at all! LOL! I agree sometimes it is just that we need to get away from them for a bit.
  7. agee

    agee Guest

    I don't think he was sexually abused. I certainly don't think a 7 year old waving his penis around and giggling to his brother is some red flag or even that serious. It's not like he did it at school. It's his utter impulsivity at work. He had a tick bite on his penis this weekend so he's been pretty aware of its existence the last couple of days.
    He knows social rules. Believe me. This was impulsive, ridiculous behavior which I could have dealt with differently, but I'd really had enough at that point.
    And I get it that people worry about kids being kidnapped, but a) I think this is a fear that is utterly out of proportion to reality, and b) my road is rural. 2-3 cars a day at 20 miles/hour and we know every single occupant. I was more worried about me getting caught than him getting caught. He actually rides his bike up and down the road all the time - but I was worried someone might stop for a chat with him and he might tell them I kicked him out of the car because I am mean, which is exactly what he was thinking, I am sure.
    Anyway, I appreciate the advice. I don't regret what I did although it wasn't a natural consequence. Next time (and I'm positive there will be a next time) I'll be more prepared.
  8. SomewhereOutThere

    SomewhereOutThere Well-Known Member

    Oh, sorry. I read too quickly and thought he pulled it out in front of a bunch of No, I don't think that's a big red flag that he did it to his brother.
  9. agee

    agee Guest

    If it had happened at school you can bet there'd have been lots of calls made!
    Oh brother. You've put fear into my heart!
  10. Mamaof5

    Mamaof5 Guest

    I too don't think it's a sign of sexual abuse. At 7 years old it's actually more age appropo than most people think it is. This is the age at where curiosity of the body is very common and starts with inappropo behaviors like OP's difficult child did. Honestly, I think he did it for shock factor, the "look at me now" factor. My 6 year old has tried this same thing (in the house, out of house in the front, peeing on someone's lawn even for my 9 yr old - at the time 8 yr old when some lady screamed at his brother to "get the f off her lawn" - he knee jerk reacted and did what first came to mind to defend his baby brother).

    It happens and it must be dealt with at age appropo levels. I like Marg's suggestions - put it away, planned ignoring perhaps might work if it's in the home or in the car? Maybe a "that kind of thing is meant to be in private in your room or in the bathroom, please go there to do that" is what I use and have used with my kids. Without blame, without making it seem the body part (penis, vulva, nakedness) are inherently wrong just the act in public areas of the house or outside is wrong. You don't want to scare him into thinking his penis is a dirty little taboo that should not be spoken about or asked about or mentioned, just inappropriate behaviors.
  11. agee

    agee Guest

    I agree.
    I don't want you all to think I make a habit of yelling or punishing my children for asking questions about or touching their genitals. I do not. I am actually very open and matter of fact and unembarrassed about the body or sexuality. I saw this much more of a wound-up, foolish, impulsive, bad choice that had the end result of distracting me in the car (much like throwing things at me while I'm driving - another thing he does regularly).
    The upside is that I told this story to a couple people at work and they had a good laugh. So at least it was entertaining to others...
  12. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    "It's too little to be out in this weather, keep it covered up or it will catch cold,"

    Oh, Marg!!! ROFL!
  13. agee

    agee Guest

    I liked this. My husband even laughed.
  14. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    I used the toothpick line on blokes I worked with who tried the sexual harassment on me. I flipped out that line and laughed, in front of their workmates. They learned to not harass me, in peril of their self-esteem.

    Agee, I totally get that you're not hung up on this or anything, you were just fed up with the silliness and distraction factors. However, don't assume this isn't happening at school. Boys of this age do this, in the toilet block. They have competitions to see who can stand furthest back and aim right, or who can aim highest up the wall. An Aussie writer of children's stories, Paul Jennings, actually wrote such a story, for kids, in which a competition like this was the main plot. Of course it was inappropriate (Jennings is a former school teacher who is very popular here) but a lot of his stories deal with yuk factor as well as inappropriate behaviours. While making it clear that the behaviours are inappropriate, he also makes it clear that boys will be boys and WILL be inappropriate.

    The story is called "Little Squirt" by Paul Jennings and is in his collection called "Unmentionable".

    Note - this is a GOVERNMENT link, endorsed by the Queensland Dept of Ed, by the look of it. So it is OK from an Aussie point of view. Listen to it yourself first before you let your kid listen, though. I know there are cultural differences and what is OK here may not be OK for you. It should be, though. And Agee, this story might even help make the point you need to make (I can't remember how it turns out at the moment...)

  15. shellyd67

    shellyd67 Active Member

    Quite Frankly I would have done the exact same thing (while keeping an eye on him if possible) Infact, just 2nite my son refused to go with me to p/u his sis from karate. He just flat out refused ( can you imagine that LOL) He finally relented and we were a few minutes late picking her up. He has on many occasions refused to get in the car so I would pull around the corner and wait it out and there he would be playing with kids on the block. He could careless that I left. I am so glad that I found this site and am able to vent and get feedback, support and advice. A big thanx to all of u ! :(
  16. agee

    agee Guest

    I know he's been doing inappropriate things in the bathroom. His teachers have told me. It's in his behavior plan that they need to monitor him in the bathroom, not send him in with older kids or a big crowd - but they don't follow the plan. Just tell me after the fact that he's done it.
    I guess I draw the line at doing things like that in the boy's bathroom and doing it to kids on the playground. Hopefully difficult child draws that line, too.
    On a happy note, difficult child had a GREAT day yesterday! Good in school, good at home, and very sweet at bedtime. I wish I knew what made one day good and one day bad. I honestly do not know the trigger.
  17. Marguerite

    Marguerite Active Member

    You really need to find a copy of that story I mentioned, "Little Squirt". It sounds like it could be very relevant.

    There was also a TV series called "Round the Twist" based on all the short stories written by Paul Jennings. It's great stuff for kids and even though it does have kids doing typical and often not very acceptable things socially, there is generally a moral lesson in the story.

    Here is a link to Paul Jennings' biography, it explains that he began writing this somewhat mucky children's fiction for his son who hated reading. Stories about kids having a urinating competition in the school toilet block are winners with young boys especially.

    I actually wrote a Paul Jennings-style children's story for difficult child 3, about genetically engineered dog droppings.

    Paul Jennings' stories have a certain amount of magic in them - in the stories, the protagonist does something fairly typical (such as trying to get out of taking foul-tasting medicine, or getting locked in a public toilet) and then something magical happens, often as a consequence (often unnatural consequence). There are twists and turns; the stories and books are addictive. Paul Jennings was also bullied as a kid, and this shows in his stories where bullies often REALLY cop the worst of the consequences in ways tat would have bullying victims around the world cheering.

    My point is - while what your son sounds like he's doing is inappropriate, it is something that some boys anyway, will get up to when unsupervised. There will be other things too, not necessarily sexual in any way. I found aspects to Paul Jennings' stories faced these issues head on and then answered them in a novel way that still got the message across - don't mess around like this, it really isn't a good idea. But it's told to the kids at their level and with humour.

    This guy won award after award for his writing, he was a sort of Aussie J K Rowling, long before harry Potter. He got kids reading, especially boys who otherwise wouldn't touch books because they were 'uncool'. The grotty factor is what does it to hook them in, but the moral lesson can often get the point across well to an ODD kid who otherwise just isn't listening.

  18. TerryJ2

    TerryJ2 Well-Known Member

    In the bathroom, is he spraying things? You know, a lot of kids, when they get to that age, just do things because "they can."
    I once was invited to a party and dinner at a friend's house. Very wealthy, huge pool, wide screen movie theater size TV. Doesn't mean they have taste, though. Their 7-yr-old son whipped out his private part and urinated all over the grill.
    "Isn't that cute?" his mother laughed.
    Suffice to say, I had vegetables that night.
    Some parents have different parenting styles.:(
  19. klmno

    klmno Active Member

    And they worry about my parenting skills?
  20. agee

    agee Guest

    He definitely is messy in the bathroom, way more than he used to be, and I know for a fact that he's peed on his bedroom rug at least once in the past month, and possibly 2x (with an attempt to cover it up by dumping a large quantity of soapy water on it.
    Older people around here often remark that my son is "all boy," and then laugh. HA HA, I say.