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Karyn Jones
Karyn Jones, Mental Health Professional
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 1716
Experience:  Diploma of Counselling and Transactional Analysis Counselling, Lifeline counselling, Pastoral Care.
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If I am questioning my 3 year old girl's change in behavior-

Customer Question

If I am questioning my 3 year old girl's change in behavior- which might ring with hints of possible sexual abuse, where do I start, who do I take her to, how do I know if I'm being overly protective and concerned vs. there actually being an issue???
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Karyn Jones replied 5 years ago.
Hello and thank you for bringing your concerns to Just Answer...and can only imagine just how much distress and worry this must be causing you right now and truly feel for you .
I have read your email very' intently and always believe that it is better to be safe than sorry by way of taking the time out to enquire into your little girls thinking..A caring and loving mother can 'never' show too much concern if there is even a 'hint' of anything out of the ordinary where it comes to the possibility of child abuse these days..
I don't know if your little one enjoys drawing but often children this age find it much easier to express whats going on for them ( if anything) through picture books, drawing or even scribbling, the use of colours...
Another very helpful way believe it or not is via the use of a sand box...she may be able to use objects in the sand to help her express herself ..( shells, stones, small sticks, small dolls or figures that she has in her toy box..pebbles..doll house furniture, people..)
You could ( in a playful way ) get her to either point towards something, or pick up and place an object in the sandbox..until the story begins to take shape..This way it will take the seriousness out of the play time..and at the same time she has an opportunity to open up...Just keep it light though...
Another idea would be to get in touch with your pediatrican and or child psycololgist as they are especially skilled in the field of working unobstrusively with children ..where they will spend a long time getting to know them and building up a trusting, caring, supportive relationship...
Though depending on who you may suspect is possibably abusing her she may may feel much more comfortable and at ease in the care of the other sex..If male then a female pediatrican..child psychiatrist...etc...
Please know that if you have trouble getting her to express any concerns then she will be very safe in the hands of a skilled professional who are trained for exactly this..

I truly pray that this has proved of help to you and that all goes well for you, yours and this little one...A mother always knows their children better than please don't be afraid of seeing this through...You are to be highly commended for your own proactiveness in this...
I am a survivor of child abuse myself and my own parents weren't a vigilent as they might have been...

Please do take very good care of 'self' too right now at such a stressful time...
and I pray that all will be well in the end..

Do forgive this late response as it has much to do with world time difference I'm afraid and when an expert is next available to help..Please 'accept' this if it has ben of help to you as it also contributes much' by way of keeping this valuable service going fro you and others alike in the future..

Kindest thoughts
Warmest wishes
Karyn J
Customer: replied 5 years ago.

May I give you some examples of the things that have been going on that i am concerned about, and maybe some family background, to see if I'm possibly off-base, or not on the right track (barking up the wrong tree perhaps)? My daughter has been attending this day care since she was born, and my sons before her. It is a home daycare environment and I love the provider (female). Her husband has been semi-employed and is at the house more often than not, but seems to keep at a distance from the kids. About a year ago I remember the provider saying something to the effect that her husband loved my daughter, and something about her even sitting on his lap at times when he was on the computer (or something to that effect).

Over the last year I have thought she had a irritable vaginal area, as it seemed red and a few times I suspected a UTI, because of the redness to the area, although it was not swollen or bruised, and I had her screened for a UTI once and she was clear. I attributed the redness, which would resolve over a day or two with the use of bacitracin and making sure she was cleaned properly after urinating in the toilet, to her maybe being given free reign to wipe herself off after urinating, and maybe she did not do a good job, and the area was irritated from this.

My daughter has become increasingly angry and defiant over the last year (although anger is not new to our family- her dad has an anger problem and she has 2 brothers w/ADHD & oppositional defiant d/o). She is generally happy, and prone to tantrums, and the anger is not pervasive throughout the day, but it's there, and the defiance is off and on. Her day care provider is at a loss at his point because for the last few weeks, my daughter has been urinating "on purpose", wetting her pants, has had a few bowel movement accidents, and she's been potty trained for over a year. She has had times at home where she's urinated "on purpose" in her pants, or in areas of the house, or tried to urinate in small containers as if it were a potty chair. Sometimes she is hesitant to urinate as it is uncomfortable due to the redness that shows up. I have seen her pull at her labia a lot, not 24/7, but if her underwear is off, she'll do this (and I thought it more to be a 3 yr old's curiosity and discovery of her "parts"). She has become very clingy when I drop her off at day care for the last several weeks too, which is new for her, and a phase I thought. Some days are better than others, and she is okay w/me leaving, and other days she does not want me to go, and saying goodbye can take and extremely long time. And not every time, but sometimes when she wants to give me a kiss, or pretend like she is getting married, she tries to give a prolonged kiss with moving her head side to side, again, this is not every time she gives me a kiss, and I assumed she was mimicing the kisses of the fairytales she likes to watch.

She is a happy girl, but has her tantrums, and anger outbursts, and definatantly defiant behavior, so I am unsure if this is hinting at some possible sexual abuse or behavioral issues (as my children are obviously prone to this). I want to help my little girl out however I can and don't want to assume that it is one thing when it may be something totally different. The escalating behavior (trying to hurt others at day care, isolating herself at day care, "purposeful" urinating in her pants/b.m. accidents, defiance) is going on over 3 weeks and her day care provider doesn't know what to do for her, questioning if her day care is right for my daughter anymore. I am trying to put all of these pieces together, and over the last year have thought all of things have been isolated, unrelated, and that I was possibly reading into things. If my daughter has suffered any type of abuse at the hands of another, I won't ever be able to forgive myself! I want to help her, I just can't prove it's abuse, and it maybe is totally behavioral in nature- I'm just so unsure.

Thank you for taking the time to read this novel; I just didn't know where to turn!


Expert:  Karyn Jones replied 5 years ago.
Dear *****tine, thank you so' much for taking the time and finding the courage to write all this down for me I feel very ' privileged..You have done the right thing please know that..
As I have much' to do with cases of child abuse having been a victim ( now recovered ) myself...
As I was reading your email alarm bells were ringing all the way through for me concening your little one...if what I suspect is true and she is being sexually abused then my first port of call would be to remove her from this home day care centre..
Please Christine its imperative please don't blame yourself if it is true ...because its a very difficult thing to determine with children to day ..telling usual misbehaviour apart from the effects that come with abuse...
The tell tale signs are isolating themselves from others...acting up when going back to the environment that they feel uncomfortable in...bed wetting, urinery issues..general regress in potty training...
defiance..and behavoural issues...more clingyness than usual... more than usual attention givne to their private parts....
New irritations..broken sleeping patterns, fear, nighmares, ... introverted solitary moments...

What can I say and it truly pains me too but my suspicions are there ..
Please though Christine you mustn't blame yourself if this is founded to be true ..but now would be a time to take her out least until after child psychologist can see her and work with her...He or she will know pretty much if this is the case..
But it certainly sounds as though she isn't looking forward to going back there..
Children are very bright and yet are also so trusting...Please follow through on this..she will never forget you for it..

I wish that there was more that I could say...
Kindest thoughts
Karyn Jones and other Mental Health Specialists are ready to help you
Expert:  Karyn Jones replied 5 years ago.
Dear *****tine, I have also found further information by way of guidelines used today to watch out for re: signs of sexual abuse..

please know that my thoughts will' be with you to be sure..