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Dr. Mark
Dr. Mark, Psychologist
Category: Parenting
Satisfied Customers: 5334
Experience:  Dr.Mark is a psychologist in private practice who works with parents and children in resolving family issues.
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My 5 year old stepchildren has been smearing her on the

Customer Question

My 5 year old stepchildren has been smearing her feces on the wall, being cruel to our cats and dog, being inappropriate with her siblings (talking her younger brother into kissing her and trying to get him to remove his pants). I know that there is something wrong I just cant pinpoint it. Her mom and I are not affectionate in front of her but she did once walk in on us while we were showering. Can you please advise me.
Submitted: 3 years ago.
Category: Parenting
Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 3 years ago.

Dr. Mark :

Hi! I'll be glad to help you with this issue.

Dr. Mark :

I can see how these behaviors would be worrying to you and her mom. What do her preschool/kindergarten teachers report about her behavior?

Dr. Mark :

Do you need more time to reply?

Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 3 years ago.

Hi! Because you didn't reply in the chat, the system reverted to the question/answer format so I'll answer you here, okay?

First, let me say again I can imagine how this situation would indeed be worrisome for you. She is exhibiting signs of anxiety. We don't know, though, if this is anxiety from something happening in school, or separation anxiety, or adjustment to the stepfamily, or sibling rivalry, or other possible anxieties that a child could have.

So, we see that you just don't have enough information yet to know the best way to act. You and her mom may want to discuss whether there is enough to warrant having a child therapist begin to inquire what might be going on or whether you want to keep an eye on it and do inquiries yourself. It's a judgment call at this time and up to you. You and your wife need to assess your level of worry about it. If it is high enough, then inquire from her school or preschool or from a clergyman who might be a good child psychologist or therapist in your area and call her/ to schedule a few sessions to find out if anything has occurred that might have triggered the anxiety behaviors or what might be happening for her inside.

If you wish to handle the investigation on your own, then I recommend you do the following:

Make it a game as much as possible. Her mom will probably be more comfortable doing this with her. Because you want to know if the removing of his pants is meaningful for her or just part of the anxiety in general. Doing this with feces is usually a regression activity and so is indicative of anxiety in general. The pants pulling down is sometimes indicative of something about the private parts. So this is for her mom:

Play body part games. Yes, she’s 5 and so I'm recommending being young with her. Make it age appropriate. Hair, nails, teeth, eyeballs, whole sorts of intricate parts. Get to the private parts and make them be something that's normal. Remind her they're normal and hug her and if she fixates, try to move on to the next item: toe fuzz or something. When she seems more comfortable with your inquiries and you're not so tense about it, go back up the body to private parts and ask about what is most interesting about THAT part? Just like you did with other parts. Etc.

I hope you are getting the idea: you are going to be tense and sending out whole sorts of emotional messages of worry and concern and that's going to influence any reactions you observe from her. So, calm down and be subtle.

Also, here are three classic books on body parts for kids. Again, same purpose: you're trying to reassure her she’s normal, his body parts are normal, everyone has them, not to worry. You are using these books as part of the investigation game. They are your props. So use these books which you can get easily online or the library.

See Inside Your Body. It's not for real little kids so she might go for it. Here's the Amazon page for it:

First Human Body Encyclopedia. Amazon page:

The Magic Bus Inside The Human Body. Also a bit young. Amazon page:

Okay. So you see the important part, right? You are trying to normalize the process for her of your asking about her private parts. You are not making a big deal of anything. And if at any point you decide you need help, it's okay to let a child psychologist help you with this. Or to start with a professional right away as well.

Okay, I wish you the very best!

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Expert:  Dr. Mark replied 3 years ago.
Hi, Chris. Have you had a chance to consider my answer? Were my suggestions helpful? Or do we need to consider more options? Let me know,

Dr. Mark