Toddlers and Intimate Matters

When a mother brings her little girl to the hospital with a concern of an intimate matter, it always opens a can of worms. Rashes and vaginal discharges happen, but we are taught always, ALWAYS to investigate for the possibility of sexual abuse.

It takes just a little bit of common sense to explain to the mother why this must happen in such a way that she does not become annoyed or defensive. What requires some teaching, in my opinion, is going about the examination without ruining the child’s sense of stranger-danger forever.

I felt a little out of my depth when I had to perform a genitourinary exam on a toddler the first time. But I’m a female and the girl seemed to understand that nothing WRONG was taking place. But she was not comfortable when I needed a consult and the only senior doctor available was male.

So I sat her down on her mom’s lap and explained to her that nobody can touch her “down there”, but sometimes a doctor has to take a look so we know which medicine to give. One has to be sure that she knows she can say NO, even if it is a doctor (or a teacher, or a religious leader, y’know?).

I think – I hope – that we managed everything properly and that the little girl’s sense of privacy and stranger-danger is in tact. I just wish we had been given a class or tutorial on such situations.


  1. Sounds like you did a good job. That is definitely a situation/scenario I haven’t given a lot of thought to, and I’m glad it’s an uncommon situation with the ambulance. It’s something to think about though.

    1. These are the things they should definitely teach us, right?! Thanks for the feedback šŸ™‚

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  3. Colin says:

    It sounds like you handled the situation well, Mariechen. I think it’s important that kids learn to respect those in the medical profession, but also to understand that just because someone wears a lab coat, that doesn’t mean they have the right to do something you don’t want them to do–you can still say no.

    1. Thank you for the reassurance – I appreciate it, and I agree wholeheartedly šŸ™‚

  4. Sounds like you handled the situation beautifully.

    1. Thank you for the reassurance šŸ™‚

  5. AWildDog says:

    You handled it just fine – try not to over think the matter, because in all honesty the child will only understand the simplest of explanations anyway and that is the important part – the child understanding.

    1. Good point – that’s something else they should teach us: communicating with little children.

      1. AWildDog says:

        They should yes – there are so many different kinds of people you will have to work with and although most of it is common sense, a little guidance would go a long way.

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