A new study released in Pediatrics on Monday details what are normal sexual behaviors for young children and what behaviors are cause for concern.
From Nancy Shute’s column in U.S. News and World Report:
“Here’s the list of what the pediatricians say is normal, common sexual behavior in 2- to 6-year-olds:
- Touching/masturbating genitals in public or private
- Looking at or touching a peer’s or new sibling’s genitals
- Showing genitals to peers
- Standing or sitting too close to someone
- Trying to see peers or adults naked”
“But we parents also need to know when a child’s sexual behavior is not normal. The pediatricians say that sexual behaviors like these are rarely normal and can signal physical or sexual abuse:
- Any sexual behaviors that involve children four or more years apart
- Different sexual behaviors displayed on a daily basis
- Sexual behavior that causes emotional or physical pain
- Sexual behavior associated with physical aggression
- Sexual behavior that involves coercion”
I used to work at a church daycare center in high school and college and saw many of the behaviors on the first “normal” list. I don’t think I ever saw any on the “bad” list.
The teachers and administrators at our school are very into what behaviors are developmental and are quick to reassure parents that certain behaviors they see are A-OK and age appropriate.
What do you think of these lists? Do you agree the first group is normal for 2- to 6-year-olds? Do you try to discourage your child from doing these “normal” things or do you just let them be? Or do you try to tell them do them in private?
What would you do if you spotted any of the non-normal behaviors with friends’ kids, neighborhood kids, or even your own?