Attune

Attune means harmony. This blog is about harmonizing ourselves in our connection to others and to our planet. I bow to basic goodness in our world and in relationships encourage opening our hearts with love and compassion.

UNDERSTANDING EARLY SEXUAL PROBLEMS IN CHILDREN

By:   Susan Grey Smith, PhD, LMFT

February 25, 2014—Part 1

All children engage in sexual exploration as a normal part of early childhood development.  Preschoolers may comment on all the different bodies they see, be fascinated by bathroom activities, sit on your lap and squeeze your breasts, run naked with glee, and engage in sex play with each other.  They may touch their genitals and feel a pleasurable sensation by accident then repeat it.  They are not yet inhibited about sex and may rub erogenous zones openly without any sense of shame or guilt.  Limits set by parents may entice children to make a game out of showing off their sexual natures if they know it bothers you.  They are lighthearted and innocent with the sex behaviors and seem to be having a lot of fun.

Adults are often alarmed when they see a young child exploring his or her sexuality lightheartedly and act like it should not be happening.  We unwittingly begin to teach children that sex is dirty and bad by trying to quash these early playful sexual experiences.  As a society we have not been well-educated about our sexual natures.  Americans tend to be extreme about sex—we don’t talk about sex at all but secretly engage in obsessive sexuality.  We are bombarded daily by sexual language and images through advertisements, cable or satellite TV, video games, movies, and the internet.  Young children are exposed to sexual information early because living in this age of easy information it is not possible to shield them.  Our old strategy of withholding sexual information until the child asks no longer applies, if it ever did.  Mostly I think as parents we just did not know how to talk to our children about sex.  Now they have all the info but not the cognitive ability to understand the social implications.  They access the information but have little access to the guidance.

Can you recall the talk your parents had with you about sex?  Most of us didn’t have one, or if we did it went something like, “Don’t have sex before you’re married, but if you do, use protection.”  Or if we’re really lucky, we may have been given a book, with images and instructions but no guidance.  So it is certainly no mystery why we have difficulty incorporating our children’s normal sexual behavior into a healthy parenting routine.  We teach our children values around a lot of things, but sex usually isn’t one of them.  We think we can just wait for “the talk” until they go through puberty and start having “real” sexual feelings, but by then it is often too late to prevent problems.

Posted 467 weeks ago

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