My 4 year old son acts like a girl. He is obsessed with wearing high heels, plays with dolls, and tries to act "sexy". What should I do?
My son, for some time now, has been acting like a girl. He wants to hang around girls, likes girl things, and tries to act like a woman (usually like one he sees on TV). My husband and I are very loving parents, and we have a great relationship with our son, but we are becoming concerned that he may have gender identity issues. We keep reminding him that he is a boy and that God made him that way and we love him the way he is. He says he is just pretending, but its constant. Should we be worried? How should we handle this? Please help, I'm not sure what to do.
I can understand that this is really worrying you because it feels like it is not something that parents typically see. There are times when it is a phase for a child to act like the opposite sex--they are curious, 'trying out' a different persona. However, when this persists beyond the time that it is typical for a child to be secure in their gender (which is about three or so), it can be a signal that your child is struggling with a gender identity issue. It is very important to behave calmly around your child. If he truly has a gender issue then reminding him that he is a boy will confuse him more, and telling him that God made him this way could make him feel guilty, or like he is disappointing you or God. This will not help you or him get to the bottom of the issue. Some questions you can casually ask him are "when you grow up do you think you will become a woman or a man?" and "would you prefer to be a mommy or a daddy?". I would suggest that you seek specialists--a psychologist and a developmental pediatrician that SPECIALIZE in gender identity. Your goal is to assess your son and then decide on what if any treatment is necessary. You need to be careful not to go to professionals who don't fully understand or know how to work you in the best way possible, so research to find these people is critical.
Good Wishes and Great Parenting,
Dr Susan Bartell
JustAsk Expert www.drsusanbartell.com
NEW book “The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask”Good Wishes and Great Parenting,