Until What Age Is It OK To Go Nangu Pangu?
Given half a chance, most kids would enjoy prancing around in their birthday suit until whatever age self-consciousness sets in. For parents, though, the decision on what state of undress they allow their kids to be in, in what environment, and until what age isn’t necessarily a clear one; a lifetime of experiences and societal conditioning shape our attitudes to nudity. And when we see someone – adult or child – step outside our definitions of what is appropriate, we tend to judge.
So we went around and asked – at what age does nangu pangu become besharam nanga?
Lipi Joshi, 26, a teacher with several young nieces and nephews, thinks parents are overly concerned about kids’ public dress and behaviour. Their concerns might be valid, she says, but they restrict the child’s freedom. Parents should leave it to the child to decide when he or she feels the need to cover up, she says, at least till age 6.
“After age 6, if the child does not think it necessary to wear clothes, then parents can intervene,” Lipi says. “Until then, I think children should be allowed to do what they like. Girl or boy, irrespective.”
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Bharat, 58, whose two children are grown up now, says he and his wife were fine with their kids being naked around the house if it was just close family, cousins or grandparents. When guests were around, they would make sure the kids were clothed — but not out of modesty.
“When you have guests, you put flowers in a vase, which you might not do otherwise, or you change the tablecloth,” he says. “It’s the same with making your children wear clothes.”
He says in public places, he does find it odd if children above 5 wear only underwear.
“And unfortunately, I think that things are different for boys and girls, in public,” he says. “The way society looks at nudity is different for men and women, so it’s [also different] for kids. You see men taking off their shirts to celebrate a goal while playing football. Women don’t do that.”
Sneha Jaggar, 29, says her young sons can be found running around the house naked only right after a bath or the loo. Otherwise, they’re clothed, and they don’t show any desire to be otherwise. It’s important for children to learn they can’t just walk around without clothes, she says, in order to protect them.
“I think moms worry about these things a lot more because women themselves see a lot more exploitation so it’s inbuilt for them to be more protective,” she says. “Men think about these things too but they might not worry so much, or might need a push to even see the reasoning behind a mother’s thoughts.”
Shailee Vyas, 27, is expecting her first child and says she’ll let her child roam freely around the house in whatever state of undress he or she prefers until age 6 — and after that, in just a pair of underwear for as long as he or she likes.
“Before 6 I really don’t think it is a problem especially in the house,” she says. “Outside I might be a bit worried but that’s more out of the fear of catching an infection and not because genitals are exposed.”
She does admit that it is difficult for a parent to make the right decision in such cases.
“You wonder how do you protect your children and at the same time not make them feel that everyone is an enemy,” she says, but at the end of the day, allowing children to be comfortable with their bodies is what sets the tone for lifelong positive body image.
Sapna, 34, is the mother of a 4-year-old and says it’s fine for kids to be without dress restriction till age 2.
“I think until 2 they’re still developing their sense of self, so the occasional being naked at home is fine,” she says.
Mansi, 31, says her daughter and son never needed to be told to cover up. And in instances when she would have been OK with them taking off their clothes, they never tried or wanted to. She says once at a party she was preparing to change her 2-year-old, when he asked to be taken into the bathroom.
“And when he sees people going for a run on the street, he sometimes says to me, ‘Mama, they forgot their T-shirt!'”
She says she would put 1 year as the cut off for children to be naked. But if she sees children older than that in a state of undress, it doesn’t bother her.
“I have stopped judging parents once I realized how different two of my own kids are,” she says. “So, you just sympathise with parents and think maybe they tried to make him wear clothes, but he just didn’t want to.”
Lavin says for as long as he can remember, his son, 4, has walked around the house in a shirt and undies, never expressing a need to rid himself of any clothes.
“We are taking parenting one day at a time so I haven’t really thought much about how he will dress after age 5,” Lavin says. “So far, he is comfortable in his T-shirt and undies, and so am I.”
“I’ve encountered infants and toddlers naked in friends’ houses – siblings or cousins,” says Kedar, 20. “It’s okay for kids to be naked in their own house till age 5 or 6, I think, but not in public. And I don’t think it differs according to gender. In public places there is a risk of sexual predators, so I think it’s better if children are clothed after they are 3.”
Dipika, 38, says her daughter would be unclothed at home in the summer only until age 2. After that, she might walk around the house nude before or after a bath — once in a while, just to be mischievous — but Dipika says that’s possibly because there’s no male family member in the house. Around relatives or in public, her daughter has never been undressed.
“I think considering the dangers today the rules should be the same for girls and boys,” Dipika says. “Till age 5, I think it’s OK [being naked] at home, but in the company of others I don’t think it’s a good idea at any age. Children should be aware of their body at an early stage and learn what is appropriate or not appropriate.”