Sex and Preschoolers
By about the age of 5, your child understands that he or she will always be he or she, barring any surgical intervention, the likes of which he or she probably has no idea. At this point, it is still considered normal for children to play games, which the rest of us would consider sexual, but for young children they are not. If you happen across a game of doctor between your child and another, it is important to handle this situation properly.
First, remember that this is not a sexual game, and second, that it is normal. Don’t chastise your son or daughter. There is no need for him or her to believe that touching his or her own body or being curious about the bodies of others is bad, or carry with him or her into teenage-hood and adult-hood that sexual interaction with another person, at the appropriate time and place is bad. Instead, you can take the opportunity to talk about privacy, body ownership, and whose touch is and is not to be welcomed.
This is a great time to be talking to your child about, what has been colloquially termed, ˜good touch, bad touch’. Instead of teaching your child to be wary of strangers, teach them to be alert to strange behavior. This is important as 80% of children are sexually assaulted by people they know. Children should know that people other than their physicians should not be touching their genitals. And, I cannot stress enough the importance of a child knowing the proper terms with which to identify his or her genitals. Your child should know to come to you if someone suggests a game that involves genital touching.
At about this age, you might start to worry about your child walking in on you and your partner and needing to explain your behavior to him or her. Your child might be concerned that you are fighting or one of you is hurting the other, and depending on your bedroom, this may well be the case. However, you need not give your son or daughter a discourse about intercourse. It will suffice to inform him or her that in fact, you were doing something special that grown-ups do and enjoy. And then go get a better latch for your bedroom door.