Sexual behaviors in children: what's normal?


Many parents don't want to think about their children engaging in any kind of sexual behavior; however, some sexual expression is really, really normal. For boys and girls alike, most kids masturbate and explore their bodies even when they're as young as two years old. But what's normal sexual behavior and when should we worry?

A new clinical report released by the American Academy of Pediatrics (AAP) and titled "The Evaluation of Sexual Behaviors in Children" (Nancy D. Kellogg, MD, and the Committee on Child Abuse and Neglect) can help parents wade through the worry. Odds are, you probably have nothing to worry about.

According to the AAP report "The Evaluation of Sexual Behaviors in Children," "Most children will engage in sexual behaviors at some time during their childhood, and for more than half, it will be before their 13th birthday. While normal, these behaviors can be concerning to parents and disruptive to others." Others, also meaning us! - their parents. Am I right?

So how do we, as parents, distinguish between normal, age-appropriate sexual behaviors and others, which are possibly developmentally inappropriate and/or abusive? Well, this new report, which offers detailed guidance to pediatricians, outlines the difference between normal, common sexual behaviors and others that may require further assessment and/or and treatment from a professional...

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Written by Sheri Reed for CafeMom's Big Kid Buzz