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Childhood sexuality

Child sexuality is the sexual feelings, behaviors, and development of children. Sexual experiences with the other sex are common during childhood. Children often kiss, touch and play doctor. Sexual contacts with the same sex are more common than opposite sex contacts. Like adults, children appear to have sexual thoughts. It is not clear how common sexual themes are in children’s fantasies.

Specific behaviours during early childhood sexual development include sexual play, masturbation, swearing, sex jokes and dressing up as the other sex. Many parents are surprised, even shocked, when they discover their children engaging in some form of sex play or exploration.

Common behaviours of childhood sexuality

  • Curiosity-based sex plays with same and opposite sex friends.
  • Occasional masturbation. For some children masturbation may begin to take on a pleasure oriented rather than relaxation focus.
  • Kissing, flirting, innocent seduction behavior
  • Occasional interest in the private body parts of others
  • Use of slang words to describe body parts and sexuality.

Parental intervention in their child’s sexuality

Children learn certain values related to sexuality that lay a foundation for later sexual development. The healthy development of our children is something we all desire. Learning to distinguish between normal and alarming childhood sexual behavior is key to ensuring healthy sexual development. Here are some points for the parents to remember when addressing their child’s sexuality:

  • Parents and caretakers need to develop an open and trusting relationship so that the children in their care feel comfortable talking with them about anything.
  • Become familiar with the developmental tasks and needs of children that pertain to their sexuality.
  • Expect your child to be exposed to sexual matters. Don’t assume that because you don’t “show it or say it” at home your child won’t know something about it.
  • Educate yourself about sex and sexuality and practice talking about it so you become more comfortable.