Information for Parents and Caregivers
Your five-year-old daughter is playing in her room with a couple of friends. You hear a lot of giggling and squealing. When you open the door to check on the kids, you find them sitting on the floor with their panties off, pointing at and touching each other’s genitals.
What Do You Do?
Every day, parents around the world are faced with situations like this. Being caught off-guard by young children’s self-exploration and curiosity about body parts and sexual issues is one of the uncomfortable realities of parenting, and can raise a host of troubling questions, such as, “Is my child normal?” “Should I be worried?” “What should I say?” Although talking with children about bodily changes and sexual matters may feel awkward, providing children with accurate, age-appropriate information is one of the most important things parents can do to make sure children grow up safe, healthy, and secure in their bodies.
Sexual Development & Behaviour in Young Children : The Basics
Like all forms of human development, sexual development begins at birth. Sexual development includes not only the physical changes that occur as children grow, but also the sexual knowledge and beliefs they come to learn and the behaviors they show. Any given child’s sexual knowledge and behavior is strongly influenced by:
■■ The child’s age1-3
■■ What the child observes (including the
sexual behaviors of family and friends)4
■■ What the child is taught (including cultural
and religious beliefs concerning sexuality
and physical boundaries)