Young children are direct in bodily manifestations: to sit on a potty in the middle of the living room for them is quite natural. How to find a balance between normal shyness and freedom in relation to the body?
Shyness is formed gradually, under the influence of family and social rules. It’s a kind of distance that is established naturally. It is formed in the process of caring for a child from the first days of his life. This distance, which denotes the boundaries of the physical body and separates it from others, is protective.
It is very important to respect these boundaries, for example, not to change children’s diapers in public and, if possible, avoid situations in which the child may feel cramped. Delicacy should be shown even at the level of the eye. Do not consider the child too closely: he may feel uncomfortable, embarrassed or even frightened.
“When my children were very young, I didn’t ask these questions. But then, when Masha was 2 years old, I stopped walking around the house naked. Now I am very careful not to embarrass them, avoid excessive caresses and try not to treat them as small, especially with the eldest. I have two girls and I am divorced from my husband. They have no one to be embarrassed by! But I would like to see them feel ashamed as they grow. My parents were pretty reserved. I remember as a kid I loved it.”
Nina, 32 years old, Masha’s mother, 7 years old, and Nastya, 2.5 years old
Children after a year may already experience a feeling of embarrassment, so try to avoid situations that can provoke it.
© Getty Images/iStockphoto why kids aren’t ashamed
Shyness, designed to protect the intimate part of our lives from others, is also valuable because it teaches relationships in society. “I don’t have the right to walk the streets naked, so why would I do it at home? Says Lera, a mother of three sons – 3, 6, and 10 years old. I taught the kids to knock before they walked into my bedroom. We all respect each other’s territory.”
On the other hand, for Anna, who sometimes likes to spend her holidays on nudist beaches, nudity is not a problem. “I want to live as I feel, especially at home. So I don’t ask questions as I walk from bathroom to room without clothes. But on the other hand, I stopped taking my daughters to the nudist camp as soon as I realized they felt embarrassed. They are about 4-5 years old. I don’t want to impose anything on them. I respect their feelings.”
Shyness acts as a filter between what happens inside, in the psyche, and the outside world. The intensity, the “charge” of this feeling depends on both external circumstances and internal ones. Someone feels naked in a sundress, and someone without embarrassment walks naked on the beach.
“We’re not too shy, but one day I realized that my son feels uncomfortable seeing me without clothes, even if it’s in the bathroom. I could see him look away. And I immediately realized that I should not show him what he does not want to see. It was obvious.”
Ksenia, 27 years old, Nikita’s mother, 4 years old
© Getty Images why children are not ashamed
Between the age of 2 and 4, the child discovers the ingestion. If before the baby was not embarrassed when you came out of the bath without clothes, one day you will notice how something has changed. He says “phew!” when you kiss your husband, embarrassed if he sees you half-dressed. He no longer wants to change into pajamas in front of everyone. He asks to close the bathroom door.
These changes are associated with awareness of one’s gender and interests differences. You should notice these changes in your child’s behavior and take them seriously. Many parents feel hurt when the baby closes in the toilet or refuses to undress in their presence. You can’t control your child’s body at any given time, “Do you have the right to sit on a potty or play in his room alone.
Even if you are not ashamed of your child or think that he is small and does not pay attention to some details, you should not continue to behave as before. Young children are much more bodily beings than adults, their instincts are not yet subject to the norms, the rules of morality adopted in society. And their ideas about shame and some restrictions and prohibitions concerning the body, they will get from you, in your family.
“Shyness for me is something out of the realm of feelings. I was raised by reserved, closed parents who rarely expressed their feelings. Yes, I repeat this pattern. We don’t walk naked at home. And when Senya walks around the room without pants, I tell him that this is wrong. That’s part of the training. As rules of conduct. I think that’s important.”
Peter, 31 years old, father of Arseny, 3 years old