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My son is 4 1/2 years old. Ever since he could talk he has been infatuated with tummies. He always asks me or my sister or my mom to touch our tummies. He seems very asexual about it and it seems completely innocent but I just don't know what to make of it. He even has torn pictures of women's tummies out of a fitness magazine I had laying around. He has become very possessive about these photos. Should we be worried about this infatuation? Do you think it is a phase that will eventually pass? I don't believe we have done anything to promote this obsession with tummies. My husband and I have just tried ignoring it and it does seem that the more attention we give it - like asking him why he likes tummies so much or how about he tear out pictures from magazines of other things than tummies - it does seem to exacerbate the obsession. Any advice/help would be greatly appreciated. Thanks!


Peter Hanfileti, MD Replied: My thought is that he has associated the remembrance of his time spent in the womb with a woman's tummy in general and he is especially delighted to find other literal or symbolic examples of this. I believe our own prenatal experience is something we all have an instinctive memory of, although most of us are likely to be completely unconscious of it. In my experience with working with kids in my office practice, those who are youngest in age tend to have the strongest remembrance and attachment to that time period in their (and your) lives. I like to consider the prenatal period as the child's introduction or preview of their world experience before they make their grand entrance. I might try to frame this interest of his in terms that generalizes the prenatal experience to everyone, not just something that pertains to him. You might also show him pictures of yourself while you were pregnant with him to show him the likely reason he has such an attraction to tummies in the first place, and to share your memories of what it was like for you while pregnant with him. If you show him that everyone in the world has had a prenatal existence, and some remember it and some don't but both are okay, this may ratchet down the intensity of his attraction and infatuation with tummies. As an aside, I once had a mother with a 2 year old child who pointed to her belly and said "Baby". Sure enough, she was pregnant at the time with her next child but didn't know it yet. Makes you wonder about what young kids and babies really know doesn't it? In any case, I wouldn't be overly concerned as it is likely he will replace this current focus of his attention on something else very soon.
Posted On 2010-06-21 20:19:02
Brenda Nixon, M.A. Replied: Honestly, this is new to me. I've never heard of a 4 y/o with this persistent interest. Have you talked with your son's pediatrician? I'd be curious what a medical professional thinks and you might consider a family counselor for a different perspective. You are right that any attention you give will exacerbate the issue. Try to ignore the behavior at home, and when he goes into a tummy obsession suggest another activity to get his mind onto something else.
Posted On 2010-03-30 21:33:46
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