It is natural for children to express their sexuality and their interest in the differences between the sexes through their behaviour. Children are curious and always wanting to learn. One of the first things they want to learn about is their bodies. They are curious about why their body is different from a parent or sibling of the opposite sex.
Red Flag Behaviors
Patient information: See related handout on sexual behaviors in children , written by the author of this article. Sexual behaviors in children are common, occurring in 42 to 73 percent of children by the time they reach 13 years of age. Developmentally appropriate behavior that is common and frequently observed in children includes trying to view another person's genitals or breasts, standing too close to other persons, and touching their own genitals. Sexual behaviors become less common, less frequent, or more covert after five years of age. Sexual behavior problems are defined as developmentally inappropriate or intrusive sexual acts that typically involve coercion or distress. Such behaviors should be evaluated within the context of other emotional and behavior disorders, socialization difficulties, and family dysfunction, including violence, abuse, and neglect.
Normative Sexual Behaviors
Sometimes, kids' games head into the nude-and-rude territory. What's normal and safe and what's not? We thought it was hysterically funny - though we also had a vague notion that it was a bit naughty and rue. Er, rude. There was absolutely nothing sexual in it. It was just six-year-old girls being a bit silly and curious. Her mother agreed that it did, but seven-year-old Lena wants to check for herself. She writes:. One day, as I sat in our driveway in Long Island playing with blocks and buckets, my … curiosity got the best of me.
Answering their kids' questions about sex is a responsibility that many parents dread. Otherwise confident moms and dads often feel tongue-tied and awkward when it comes to talking about puberty and where babies come from. But the subject shouldn't be avoided. Parents can help foster healthy feelings about sex if they answer kids' questions in an age-appropriate way. From as early as infancy, kids are interested in learning about their own bodies. They notice the differences between boys and girls and are naturally curious. Toddlers often will touch their own genitals when they're naked, such as in the bathtub or while being diapered. At this stage of development, they have no modesty. So, what should you do when your toddler begins touching himself or herself?