Curiosity about genitals

Curiosity about genitals

At what age should young children stop exploring each other’s genitals? I know it’s normal for young children, but we caught our eight-year-old neighbor in a situation with our younger son… I wouldn’t have thought twice about it if they were both five. Wondering what the norm is here?

Comments

  1. Maybe I shouldn’t comment as I’m no doctor or psychologist, but I’m pretty sure that the “interest” never stops. But the kids should be taught by their parents and mature on their own to know it’s not acceptable to act on those interests. And I have no idea on what age that happens. We’ve taught our daughter about respecting others privacy since probably around 5ish. It also probably has a lot to do with the kids exposure to others such as having siblings or being an only child.

    Reply Flag this comment
    1. Good answer… Which leads me to the next question: if you know the kid is 8 and has good parents who have taught him not to act on these interests, is it worrisome that he would do so with your five-year-old? I’m wondering if I should chalk it up to normal development or give in to this nagging feeling that he is old enough to know better when my son isn’t.

      Flag this comment Reply
  2. I think it’s important to safeguard our kids from abuse early on by teaching them about their bodies. That includes using proper names for body parts (ie. Vagnina, penis, scrotum, etc) and answering questions directly and with simple age appropriate information. Brad is correct when he assumes that “interest” is really part of being a human so the key is teaching what is appropriate and what is not. I suggest letting your own children know that the areas we cover with bathing suits are considered private. They are ours alone and no one else needs to see or touch them. Similarly, no one else needs “help” with those same areas – so there is no reason to touch anyone else’s body under their clothes. Children can be silly but it’s hard to determine what is silly play and what could be a sign of something more worrisome. We hope that the other child comes from a safe environment but cannot assume. Nearly all children who are sexually abused are touched by someone they know, often someone they know very well. The child is often “groomed” for months or years before the abuse begins so that they do not understand that a boundary has been crossed. It is up to us to protect our own children by discussing the “rules” of our own bodies.
    RAINN (rape, abuse & incest national network) http://www.rainn.org has great resources about how to talk to your children at different ages about appropriate and inappropriate touch.

    Reply Flag this comment
    1. Thank you! This is so helpful… And you’re right that I was probably naive to think that because I know and respect the parents, that means that the child has been taught clearly and hasn’t experienced abuse by someone that would lead to inappropriate behaviors. I am going to read up on these resources and decide whether to talk to his parents.

      Flag this comment Reply

Tell us who you are! We use your name to make your comments, emails, and notifications more personal.

Tell us who you are! We use your name to make your comments, emails, and notifications more personal.