Expert Iconexpert advice MORE

Child Exposes Himself

Toddler and Teenager Expert Advice from Carleton Kendrick, Ed.M., LCSW

Q: My six year old son was brought into the principal's office today for exposing himself around his male friends during recess. Not only does an incident like this distress me, but he also had a similar incident last year. Last year he exposed himself on the soccer field after he "mooned" some of his friends. The "mooning" was such a big hit that he decided to take it further and pull his pants all the way down. Today he pulled his pants down because a child, two years older, told him to.

Should I be concerned my son has a perverse nature?

A: I do not think that your six year-old son has a perverse nature. Unfortunately, he gets a lot of attention from his peers for performing these public sexualized acts. Like the class clown who risks continuing reprimands from his teacher (and his parents) for his disruption of the class, your son has found a way to be "cool." Mooning and dropping your pants both fore and aft are common behaviors at this age and stage. The fact that he is seen by his peers as a kid who will do what they wouldn't dare to do has afforded your son some positive status among his cohorts. Heck, he even took this last dare from an eight year-old!

It's obviously difficult for him to resist the inappropriate, occasional sexualized display when he feels it will net him "points" with his peers. He needs your understanding about how you know he finds it difficult sometimes to turn away from these behaviors and dares. Let's not lose sight of the fact that we are talking about only two incidents in two years. Work with him on being able to resist these dares and exposures. He needs to feel that he does not need to misbehave in this manner in order to be accepted and liked by his peers. Rehearse some dialogue with him about how he can reply to kids the next time one of them might egg him on. Encourage other positive parts of his personality that will surely cause other kids to want to be his friend. Don't shame him or make him feel dirty or perverse for doing these things. Let him know that you believe he is a great kid who needs to work more on not being influenced by others to perform risky behaviors.

More on: Expert Advice

Carleton Kendrick has been in private practice as a family therapist and has worked as a consultant for more than 20 years. He has conducted parenting seminars on topics ranging from how to discipline toddlers to how to stay connected with teenagers. Kendrick has appeared as an expert on national broadcast media such as CBS, Fox Television Network, Cable News Network, CNBC, PBS, and National Public Radio. In addition, he's been quoted in the New York Times, Washington Post, Chicago Tribune, Boston Globe, USA Today, Reader's Digest, BusinessWeek, Good Housekeeping, Woman's Day, and many other publications.

Please note: This "Expert Advice" area of should be used for general information purposes only. Advice given here is not intended to provide a basis for action in particular circumstances without consideration by a competent professional. Before using this Expert Advice area, please review our General and Medical Disclaimers.


8 Epic Emoji-Themed Crafts, Activities & Recipes
Check out the best emoji crafts, activities, and recipes! They're perfect for an emoji-themed birthday party or anytime you need DIY (and screen-free!) summer activities for kids, tweens, and teens.

Find Today's Newest & Best Children's Books
Looking for newly released books for your child? Try our Book Finder tool to search for new books by age, type, and theme!

10 Free Summer Learning Worksheets
Print these free printables for preschoolers and kindergarteners to help your child's mind stay sharp until September!

Ready for Kindergarten?
Try our award-winning Kindergarten Readiness app! This easy-to-use checklist comes with games and activities to help your child build essential skills for kindergarten. Download the Kindergarten Readiness app today!

stay connected

Sign up for our free email newsletters and receive the latest advice and information on all things parenting.

Enter your email address to sign up or manage your account.

Facebook icon Facebook icon Follow Us on Pinterest

editor’s picks