Sexual development 9-12 years
At this age, children become increasingly ashamed of their naked bodies. Some of them start dating for the first time, but they barely touch each other. From the age of ten they want to know more about sex, although they often still think it's dirty. Their bodies are starting to change and that makes them insecure. For every parent, it is good to discuss sexuality at this stage of life and to provide good sex education. For example, it is important that children learn that porn is 'played sex' and that things are very different in real life. Love, sex and respect go hand in hand, and it is reassuring for children of this age to understand this. Also, another person is not allowed to touch you just like that (and vice versa). As a parent you can help your child to be clear about her limits.
Specifically for anorectal malformations/Hirschsprung’s disease
For your daughter with an anorectal malformation/Hirschsprung’s disease, this is also the stage at which she becomes more aware of physical differences, shame and sexuality. However, the condition can cause significant differences. For example, your child may have grown accustomed to others touching her between the legs from an early age: for flushing, stretching the anus, for examinations and operations. Although this is necessary and done with the best of intentions, it can also have unintended consequences. Think of resistance to sexuality because of its association with pain and misery, or problems with setting boundaries. After all, if all kinds of people were allowed to touch you in the past, you might not know how to set your limits in the event of unwanted touching. Shame can also play an important role in your child's life. It can look different from below: buttocks, vagina and anus can be of a different shape or sitting in a different place and your child can always unexpectedly lose poo or pee or fart.
As with all children, good sex education helps your child develop a healthy attitude to sex. It is also important that you help your child learn to set boundaries. As a result of her medical history, your daughter may be more vulnerable than other children. Make sure that your child avoids situations out of fear of accidents or shame about their own body. Also in this age phase: openness helps. If the environment knows what is going on, it is easier to take it into account, to come up with solutions and to make agreements. If your child continues to avoid situations, seek professional help. Your child may and can enjoy excursions, sports and doing fun things together with other children just as much as anyone else!
"Yes, we are a very open family anyway. We've never really had difficulty talking about certain things. If you had problems, it was just discussed, so that helps. If everything was covered up, I don't think I would have been like that [she talks easily about her condition and tells it to those around her]."
Want to know more?
About the sexual education of children from 9-15 years old and sex education by age group [Available in Dutch]
About the sexual development of children with a disorder [Information in Dutch and can be translated]
About the experiences of a 12-year-old boy with an anorectal malformation [Dutch video which you can Auto-translate into multiple languages via YouTube].