Your 6 3/4-year-old: Wanting privacy

Your 6 3/4-year-old: Wanting privacy

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Your 6-year-old now

At ages 6 and 7, a sense of modesty begins to appear. Your child may suddenly insist on dressing or bathing alone or no longer leaves the bathroom door wide open.

Why the new sense of privacy? Some of it stems from a new self-awareness, as well as a sense that other people have feelings different from hers. Your child has a growing gender identity, too, and consciously or unconsciously imitates the parent of her gender. She may also pick up on cues around the house – for example, whether people normally walk around nude or not.

This sense of privacy may come and go; one minute she wants to dress all alone and the next minute she's streaking through a sprinkler in the backyard. Not all kids have entered this stage yet; some 6-year-old boys may fondle themselves in public places without realizing it, for example.

Modesty is a somewhat relative concept. Give some thought to what modesty means to you. How do you want your child to feel about her body and what's appropriate in public, both in behavior and dress? Maybe your family skinny-dips at the lake, or maybe no one ever leaves their bedroom without at least a swimsuit on.

As girls enter the "big kids" clothing realm, you'll find many styles that might seem more appropriate for a 12-year-old or an 18-year-old (or no young lady ever). You'll increasingly have to make choices about what you think is appropriate attire for your child. Cultural icons may also influence the ways she wants to dress. Remember, you're the one who holds the wallet. If you don't like it, don't buy it.

Your life now

Is your child's bedroom a continual wreck? She might need some basic organizational help. Too many possessions can be overwhelming for a young child to keep in order. Weed through her drawers and closet every season and pitch things that are outgrown, stained, or tattered. Sort through toys, too, and give away those that are outgrown; toss anything with broken parts. Toy boxes (or plastic bins) and hampers help make picking up easy.

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