Amid the ever-changing tide of body acceptance, you’ve been adept at fostering a safe space where your children can comfortably discuss their physical metamorphosis. But now a new question – what is the appropriate age for siblings to see each other naked – perches on the horizon. It’s no secret that girls and women wrestle with society’s convoluted narrative around the female form. And as grown-ups who comprehend the sexual nuances attached to the portrayal of bodies, we sometimes stumble over the innocent lens through which our little ones view nudity. So, it’s key we steer clear of unintentional sexualization in these conversations, treating them with the delicacy they merit.
When it comes to their bodies, it’s best to let children decide for themselves how to cover up and get some privacy. Some kids may need to be told not to run around the streets without pants, but most do develop a natural sense of their bodies and a new desire for privacy in a reasonable amount of time. Your 9-year-old twins don’t seem bothered by each other’s nudeness yet. You can rest assured that there is no universally accepted minimum age for this, therefore you are not too old. Here are a few things to think about as possible next stages.
Let’s Discuss Puberty
Scientists have had a lot to say about the idea of sex differences, and it’s important to tell the difference between socially created ideas of gender and real differences between men and women. But boys reach puberty later than girls because of how their bodies work. So, your daughter will have to help her brother figure out what to do. She will probably figure out that it feels weird to be naked around each other before he does. Even though he needs to be part of the solution, the best place to start is with your daughter. Again, though, that’s an assumption, and you should talk to both of them to figure out what’s going on.
How well you understand and accept your daughter’s puberty depends on where she is in the process. When our bodies change, we can feel a lot of unclear and conflicting feelings, like wanting to stay young and childlike. It would be interesting to hear how your daughter feels about these changes, especially since her brother probably hasn’t started them yet. Is it because she doesn’t want to feel different that she still plays with her brother before she showers?
Even though I have never met your daughter, it can be helpful to at least think about how the mental experience of puberty may be affecting her behavior.
The Body Language
If you don’t want your daughter to feel embarrassed about her body, talk to her in a way that helps her come to her own conclusions. Instead of a “don’t be naked in front of each other” talk, The Body Talk is about more than just puberty and physical changes. It involves how we view and treat our bodies and how others may do so.
Every family has its own ideas about how to talk to kids about their bodies, but sex is always a part of these talks, whether it’s mentioned directly or not. Research shows that there are important parts to this conversation, like how important it is to use the right words for anatomy instead of silly nicknames or euphemisms and how important it is to talk about the idea of having control over one’s body.
Control and Self-Rule
As parents, one of our most essential responsibilities is to instill in our children a sense of control over their physical selves. With this in mind, you shouldn’t tell her directly not to be naked in front of her brother because you don’t want to make it seem like you have power over her body. You already know this, since you’re asking the question and haven’t already!
Control can’t be discussed without an agreement, so your son needs to be a part of the conversation. Many people think that we only need to talk to our girls about consent, but it’s just as important to talk to our sons about it. Make sure that if either of your 9-year-olds tells the other to “stop” fighting or tickling, this is taken seriously. The same is true for what they do before they shower. Anyone who feels uncomfortable should be able to say so and have their wish honored. You can tell them both that this is a family rule and that it’s okay for them to say, “I’m not comfortable.”
Setting this groundwork for how consent works in your own family will not only help your kids figure out their limits as peers, but it will also help them figure out how to deal with relationships outside of the family.
Getting to the bottom of these problems will give your 9-year-old twins the tools they need to make decisions on their own. Your kids will have a better relationship with their bodies and feel more in charge of themselves if you healthily talk to them.
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