Parental nudity: How old is too old for your kids to see you naked?

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Is it ok for your toddler to see you or your partner naked? At what age does it start getting inappropriate for kids to be exposed to parental nudity? Get some advice from the experts!

When your little one was still a baby, you didn't think twice about changing your clothes in front of her -- especially if she was breastfed back then -- nor did you feel anything was wrong with climbing into the tub with your tot to splash about together during bath time.

But when your child has started to talk, is able to ask questions and is generally more observant of everything around him, you might begin to wonder whether you should stop parading around topless when she's in the same room as you, and if you should start taking showers alone now.

Would it be detrimental to your kid's health in any way if he constantly sees mummy and daddy naked?

And when exactly should you start covering up around her?

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Would your child be "scarred for life" if she's exposed to parental nudity for too long?

Effects on kids exposed to parental nudity

Some people might argue that letting your young child see you in the nude is indecent and possibly even sexual abuse, but an 18-year study on Early Childhood Exposure to Parental Nudity and Scenes of Parental Sexuality shows that there is no long-term negative effect in adolescents who were regularly exposed to parental nudity before the age of six.

However, the study also showed that if young children were exposed to scenes of their parents' sexuality, or "primal scenes", boys were more less likely to risk getting an STD infection or impregnating someone during their adolescent years; whereas girls were more likely to be at risk of contracting an STD or accidentally becoming pregnant in their teens.

On the other hand, some other research suggests that older children who were still exposed to parental nudity between the ages of 6 to 11-years-old showed permissive attitudes about sex and were more likely to engage in casual sexual relationships.

Results from the same research also showed that three to five-year-old boys who regularly saw their parents naked actually had a more positive self-image about their bodies.

So is there an exact age?

There is actually no specific age when you have to stop flashing your bare bosom in front of your kids or streaking from the bathroom all the way across the house in your birthday suit to grab a fresh clean towel from the laundry room.

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Take cues from your child to figure out when she has started developing a sense of modesty

Dr Monica Wonnacott, Paediatrician at Granger Medical Clinic Riverton (USA), suggests that this might be when your child is about three-years-old, but there are several factors that will determine exactly when the parental nudity should end in your household.

This includes your own:

  • Cultural norms
  • Personal beliefs
  • Family values
  • Child's development and maturity
  • Child's sense of modesty

According to Susanne Ayers Denham, Ph.D., a Developmental Psychologist and author of Emotional Development in Young Children, you should also pay attention to your little one's emerging sense of herself and her own body (which usually occurs after her second birthday).

"Once your toddler begins to grasp that she has control over her own body as an individual, she may start to resist you when you change her diaper or clothes in public. At this point she may also be sensing that public nudity doesn't jibe with the rules of polite society. If she starts reacting to your nakedness with signs of embarrassment such as silly smiles, giggling, or shielding her eyes with her hand, it's probably smart to cover up", she explains.

What else do other experts and local parents say about parental nudity? Keep reading to find out!

Child Development