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ablais1962
ablais1962 asks:
Q:

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.
In Topics: Cognitive development, Self esteem and identity, Communicating with my child (The tough talks)
> 60 days ago

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Expert

Dr.Susan
Nov 18, 2010
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What the Expert Says:

Hi there,
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
Twitter @drsusanbartell
NEW book “The Top 50 Questions Kids Ask”Good Wishes and Great Parenting,

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Additional Answers (5)

rkaiulani
rkaiulani writes:
Thank you for coming forward with this very interesting and important question. I'm including a link to a very lively discussion on this topic with expert answers from Dr. Wayne Yankus, who says "Real concepts of male/female behavior happen around 6 or older. It is difficult to see at this age whether this is a permanent fixture in his life.  It may have nothing to do with sexuality and everything to do with his perception of nurture and love." Read the rest here:

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kat_eden
kat_eden , Parent writes:
Hello!

I'm a mom of two boys and both of my kids went through a "high heels" phase where they loved to clomp around in my shoes and even wear my skirts sometimes.  My husband and I would just laugh, maybe even snap a picture, and not say much else.  Within a few minutes, they'd be back in their own clothes and on to the next thing.  

They're now 6 & 8 and I can promise you neither of them would touch a pump today.  I think if you make a big fuss about it, it becomes more interesting to them.  Kids love to get their parents' attention - positive OR negative - and will often repeat the behaviors that get that attention.  

I think it's VERY common for boys to go through one or more phases where they're interested in "girly" things.  Most move on.  Of course some don't.  And if your son happens to stay on this path then you have a great opportunity to show your son - and the rest of the world - what it means to love a child unconditionally.  Don't worry about trying to change him - just love him for who he is and he'll be fine!

Kat
> 60 days ago

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AnnieFox
AnnieFox , Child Professional writes:
The short answer is: No, I don't think you should be "worried." That's not helpful to you, your son or your relationship with him. Besides, no amount of worrying is going to change your son's gender identity. If it turns out that he identifies with being a girl then that's who he is. He is only 4 and this may be a case of pretend role-playing and it may be a genuine manifestation of who your son is.

What is most important is that your son feels your unconditional love and acceptance. He may have some rough spots ahead of him in his peer relationships at school, and the foundation of love and acceptance from his family is going to be key to his future sense of well-being.

Understandably, you may need to educate yourself. Talking privately with your pediatrician is a good place to start. Also, you should know about the Kilodavis family whose 5 year old son, Dyson, likes to dress as a princess. Dyson's mom has written a wonderful book for children called My Princess Boy." You might want to check it out.

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keke9
keke9 writes:
well to answer your question,I think she is still a baby.I knw because i have a four year old son who does the same thang.the only thing you could do is stay paitent and trust in the lord.
> 60 days ago

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MOONDOGGIE
MOONDOGGIE writes:
HI
 I guess i may be the one person who can answer this that knows what he is talking about ,you see this is me when i was 4 and today 62 years later im still this way ,your son was born this way nothing you can do about it ,sorry to say , but for god's sake  love him and support him my family never knew, my 2nd wife found out and black mailed me my 3 rd wife divorced me for it ..my present wife supports me she understands we can't control what happens in the womb she should know she is a doctor .i can dress and pass as a woman i collect high heels love them wear them everday my wife laughs and says i put women to shame i can wear 5" heels all day and walk perfect ,well i guess 64 years has given me  alot of practice i know this may not be the answer you were hoping for but its the truth live with it accept it for what it is .im sure he will grow up to be a find young man .oh ive never had a desire to have a sex change i love being a man but love my feminine  side also god bless you .
> 60 days ago

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