Sexual Behaviors in Children: What Is Normal and What Isn’t

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From the beginning of life, man carries within him the sexual urge, the need for sexual gratification that is

Sexual practices in children are frequent, with 42 to 73 percent of youngsters having engaged in them by the age of 13. Sexual behavior disorders are described as sexual activities that are developmentally inappropriate or obtrusive.

Other mental and behavioral illnesses should be considered while evaluating such behaviors. Sexuality development is an important component of a child’s growth and maturation. It refers to a variety of sensory, emotional, and sexual actions that might occur before or throughout puberty.

The majority of sexual behavior in adolescents and teenagers is normal and healthy. In psychoanalysis, the concept of child sexuality was very important.

How Can You Tell Whether a Sexual Behavior Is Normal or Abnormal?

Sexual actions that involve portions of the body that are considered “private” or “sexual” are known as normative sexual behaviors. For many children and teenagers, these actions are referred to as “sex play,” and they are a natural part of growing up.

One of the first sexual activities that caretakers see in children is touching their private regions. Children’s understanding of sexuality develops as they get older. When a newborn touches his or her genitals, they learn that moving and touching their body parts produces delightful sensations.

Before puberty, many children express feelings of sexual attraction, arousal, and desire. Adolescence is the time when a person’s sexual and reproductive maturity begins to change dramatically.

Normal Sexual Behavior

Most children up to the age of 13-14 engage in sexual conduct at some point. After a change in the family or day care arrangements, it is not uncommon for youngsters to engage in sexual behaviors. Younger kids are more prone than older kids to touch their genitals, try to touch adults’ genitals or breasts, and watch people undress.

What Causes a Sexual Behavior Problem?

Sexual behavior disorders are described as sexual actions that are developmentally inappropriate or obtrusive and often include coercion or distress. Many youngsters with problematic sexual practices have no history of sexual abuse, according to research.

Some children may gaze at or touch the private areas of other children without realizing it. There is no single element that causes children to develop inappropriate sexual conduct. Problem sexual behavior in children is associated with inadequate impulse control, social skills, and decision-making capacity.

Only around half of the children who behave in this way have been sexually molested. Adults that abuse children are motivated by sexual desires.

Signs of Harmful and Problematic Sexual Behavior in Children

Toddlers

  • Even after someone has tried to persuade them to do something else, they continue to touch their genitals
  • Encouraging another youngster to engage in sexual behavior with him or her or to touch him or her
  • ‘Humping’ a teddy bear, for example, or playing with dolls or other toys in a sexual way
  • Placing his hands on the genitals of strangers
  • Peeking at other youngsters or adults while they are naked or using the restroom

Preschoolers

  • Repeatedly caressing or rubbing their genitals in public and refusing to be distracted or diverted to other activities
  • Continuing to use obscene sexual words despite being advised not to
  • Touching the genitals of other children or animals repeatedly, even when they have been asked to do anything else
  • Attempting to place an object in their own or another’s anus or vagina

School-age

  • Stroking or touching their genitals in public, even after others have tried to persuade them to do something else.
  • Flashing their genitals or bottoms to other kids on a regular basis
  • Utilizing crude sexual or explicit language on a regular basis
  • Wishing to engage in sexual activities with youngsters who are considerably older or younger
  • Enticing or coercing other youngsters to participate in sexual games
  • Wanting to gaze at or touch the genitals of other youngsters or adults on a regular basis

Teenagers

  • Genital stroking or touching in public
  • Exposing their genitals, breasts, or bottoms to strangers on a regular basis
  • Remarking on or criticizing other people’s physique using crude sexual terminology
  • Accessing adult films, games, or websites that include sexually explicit material
  • Following someone who does not appear to be interested in them

Respond to Inappropriate Sexual Behavior

Caregivers and educators require specific instructions on how to respond to sexual behavior in children and adolescents. The subject of children’s/young people’s sexual behavior can be difficult for some adults, which might affect the appropriateness of their reactions. Parents and caregivers must be able to recognize the importance of such behavior in order to provide the necessary support and intervention for children.

When you come across a young kid participating in worrying or dangerous sexualized behaviors, there are a few things to keep in mind. The sooner anything is done, the sooner the problem will be solved.

  • If you witness a child acting sexually out of control, the first thing you should do is quietly intervene. Inform the youngster that their behavior is inappropriate and explain why. For example, gently but firmly telling the youngster that touching their buddy’s private areas is not acceptable, and explaining that this may make their friend feel bad.
  • Negative comments such as “that is nasty” or “don’t be dirty” are not useful in making the young person feel ashamed of their actions. Educate the young person in comprehending why they are acting sexually inappropriate.
  • Ask them questions like, “What motivated you to perform that?” and “How did you feel when you did that?” Keep an eye on things.
  • Seek medical help if necessary. If necessary, file a report with the appropriate authorities.

Educate Kids About Their Private Parts

Teach your children the right names for all bodily parts, such as genitals, penis, vagina, breasts, buttocks, and private parts. Use language that reinforces the sense that their body belongs to them and that they can protect it. Reassure your child that most touches are fine, but that they should always say “NO” and tell you if something bothers or scares them. Give your children a firm rule to follow. Teach children that looking at or touching their private areas, or what is covered by their swimwear, is not acceptable.

Review this material with your children on a regular basis. Learn about video game, film, and television program rating systems. Providing acceptable alternatives is a critical component of avoiding sexual harassment.

Seek Professional Help for Behavior Problems

If you’re worried about your child’s sexualized conduct, get expert treatment. Speak with your child’s doctor or a mental health professional. They can analyze your child and give therapeutic recommendations to help them.