Most sexual behavior in children and adolescents is a typical and healthy part of development. Along with your child’s development is curiosity about gender and related issues such as sex, some children have normal gender-curious behaviors but some behaviors are serious.
Some examples of healthy sexual development are: children often explore their own bodies and the bodies of other children by looking or touching others’ genitals. Teens can masturbate in private or have sex with someone of a similar age.
This article will help you understand your child’s sexual curiosity behavior and how to discuss these issues with your child.
Understand your child’s sexual curiosity behavior
Like all forms of human development, sexual development begins from the moment your baby is born. Gender development includes not only the physical changes that occur as your child grows, but also the knowledge, beliefs, and attitudes about sexuality that your child learns.
Any of certain children’s knowledge and sexual behavior is affected by:
- The child’s age
- What children observe (including sexual behaviors by family and friends
- What the child is taught (including cultural and religious beliefs concerning gender)
Sexual curiosity behaviors in children
Preschoolers (under 4 years old)
- Exploring and touching private parts, in public and private places
- Rubbing private parts (with hands or objects)
- Showing others private parts
- Trying to touch the chest of the mother or another woman
- Taking off your clothes and want to be naked
- Trying to see others when they are naked or undressing (in the bathroom, for example)
- Ask questions about your own body and its functions – and that of others
- Talk with children your age about body functions like “pee” and “pee”
Young children (about 4-6 years old)
- Deliberately touching private parts, sometimes in the presence of others
- Try to see others when they are naked or undressing
- Imitate dating behavior (such as kissing or holding hands)
- Talk about private parts and use sexually explicit words even if your child doesn’t understand the meaning
- Explore parts that are private to children of the same age (such as siblings playing doctor, or “I will show you my department if you show me yours,” etc.)
Inappropriate sexually curious behaviors:
- Having gestures, behaviors, and sexual interactions like adults
- Knowledge of specific and in-depth sexual behaviors (too much for their age)
- Having a sexual act involving a child 4 years or more
- Sexual acts related to coercion and violence.
Children of school age (about 7-12 years old)
- Intentionally touching your private parts is usually your private area
- Play games with children of the same age that involve sexual behavior (such as “truth or dare”, “family play” or “boyfriend/girlfriend”)
- Try to see someone naked or undress
- Look at a photo of a person who is nude or partially nude
- Watch/listen to pornography in the media (television, movies, games, Internet, music, etc.)
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- Want more privacy (e.g. not wanting to undress in front of others) and reluctance to talk to adults about sexual issues
- Becoming sexually interested in friends of the same age
Inappropriate sexually curious behaviors:
- Your child is constantly touching his/her genitals in public
- Your child intentionally repeatedly shows his/her genitals, breasts, or butt to others
- Your child uses vulgar sexual language to comment on other people’s bodies or to criticize others
- Have sexual behavior with children of many different ages
- Pay more attention to younger children (4 years and over)
- Have an aggressive emotional response or extreme anxiety to sexual acts
As your child enters this age, his awareness of social rules increases and he wants more privacy. Although self-touch (masturbation) and sexual games continue, children of this age can hide these activities from adults.
With curiosity about adult sexual behavior growing – especially as puberty approaches, your child can start searching for pornography on television and the Internet. At this point, your child also tends to begin to show a romantic and sexual interest in his peers.
Main cause of inappropriate sexual curiosity behavior in teenagers – pornography
Pornography affects your child’s brain and cognitive development
Early access to pornography is closely related to the erosion of a child’s prefrontal cortex – the area of the brain that contains executive functions such as morality, will and impulse control.
Meanwhile, when watching pornography, children increasingly choose to use more violent forms of pornography; This can be due to the desensitization of regular sex film consumption.
During adulthood, especially in adolescence, the prefrontal cortex is still underdeveloped during this period. This is why your child struggles to adjust to his or her emotions and impulses. Damage to the prefrontal cortex during adulthood is called a decrease in cerebral blood flow in the prefrontal cortex.
It is also a symptom of schizophrenia, attention deficit hyperactivity disorder (ADHD), bipolar disorder and depressive disorder, causing your child to behave compulsively and make poor decisions such as forcing or threatening others to participate in sexual activities.
Pornography causes misperceptions
In addition to several reasons such as lack of sexual conversation and education with parents, or negative changes in the child’s adulthood, frequent exposure to pornography is seen as a huge impact on this behavior, here are a few reasons why:
Pornography leads to misperceptions about social reality, leading to a high rate of group sex and child pornography. In other words, Internet pornography draws viewers away from reality.
Some other misconceptions such as having sex is just entertainment by nature, men only care about sex and women are sexual objects or goods. These beliefs are deepened and strengthened by more and more porn watching, influencing a child’s perspective on what a healthy sexual relationship is in the future.
Once they have watched porn, they will be motivated to watch more, then they will find out that the time they spend is only valuable when they are sitting by the computer and watching black websites. No meeting friends, not playing sports, not joining clubs.
What to do when your child starts to curious about sex?
Sexual curiosity is a natural part of your child’s development, and so don’t yell at them just for questioning sex. Once discovered, your child may feel embarrassed, upset, or scared. This is something every child will feel, but how you react can make a big difference.
Instead of making your child feel like they’ve done something wrong or have done something very serious, make sure you approach them calmly. Staying calm will allow you to make an objective decision about what you say or do, instead of acting on negative emotions. This will help your child feel more comfortable when he is open and listening.
Situations like the one described above may surprise you and have negative emotions, but they also provide great opportunities for you to test your child’s level of understanding and teach them important sexual information.
Consider your child’s age and stage of development, thereby giving out how and what to discuss with your child about relevant sexual issues.
You should also educate your child about sexual issues in an age-appropriate manner. Talking openly with your child gives them the knowledge and skills to make the right decisions.
However, as mentioned, with the changes physically and sexually, your child will be very sexually curious and want to know about adult content, so they are more likely to search for content about gender and sometimes pornographic content.
Pornographic content that distorts women’s perspectives, changes children’s perception of their bodies in a negative way, etc. are among its serious harms. So in addition to chatting and educating, you also need to install online content filtering tools to prevent harmful content from reaching your child, ensuring healthy growth of children.
Reference source: Sexual Development and Behavior in Children
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