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What is ‘normal sexual behavior’ in children?
By Sylvia K. Neal, LCSW, MSW © 2007
I don’t know how many parents have asked me, “How do I know what is normal sexual behavior in my children?’’ or “What did I miss?” or “How did I not notice that something was wrong?” It is so hard for parents to know today what normal sexual behavior is when navigating through the sexualized media and the over sexualized public figures that all of our children seem to idolize. And if your child has acted sexually inappropriate, many parents struggle to understand this behavior and often blame themselves.
For most children they develop sexual behaviors in much the same ways they develop other non-sexual behaviors. In other words, it is through normal exploration, an information gathering process as they begin to discover their bodies, act out different roles and sexual behaviors. However, it should be noted that all exploration should be with same age children and should not be confused with sexual abuse. It is important to understand what is normal and what is not normal sexual behavior in children and adolescents. It is also important to talk with your child and let them know what acceptable behavior is and what is not acceptable.
What is typically seen in normal sexual behavior in children (under age 10)?
Adolescent Sexuality (ages 10 – 18)
Puberty brings increased interest in sex. This is the time that you will generally see more sexual behavior. In addition to the above behaviors of younger children you will also see:
What are behaviors that are of concern and require professional intervention?
If you see any of the above behaviors, you should seek out professional help. Or if you are experiencing any of the above behaviors or have feelings of wanting to do these behaviors, please contact a professional.
Johnson, Toni Cavanaugh, (1996). Understanding Children’s Sexual Behaviors: What’s Natural and Healthy: New Harbinger Publications: South Pasadena, CA.
© Sylvia K. Neal 2007-08
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