COMMON SEXUAL CONCERNS AMONG PARENT AND CHILDREN
Parent and children alike experience certain sexual anxieties as the youngster enters and moves through puberty. In this environment, the parent’s interpretations of the youngster’s sexual concerns are filled with misconceptions and lack of understanding of the child’s behavior or questions leading to failure to advise them accordingly which will ultimately affect their future relations and relationship choices they make.
Adults misconceptions about sex and children
Child is thinking only about is sexual intercourse: This affects and interferes with communication between the generations whenever the children ask their parent sex related questions.
Many parents are convinced that if they teach their child about sex, they will be encouraging him or her to become sexually active at an early age: By talking about sex, parents feel they will be sanctioning sex intercourse in their children but the contrary is true. Best informed children are most likely to postpone intercourse.
It is important to note that when children do not get information from their parents, they turn to friends or other sources from who they receive misinformation. The parents shy off from discussing sexual related content with their children and that is why MLSC is committed to ensure children are well informed and empowered to make the right decisions in matters related to their sexuality.
Understanding Early Sexual Development
Sexual development begins in a child’s first years. Infants, toddlers, preschoolers, and young school aged kids, develop emotional and physical foundation for sexuality in many ways as they grow. By the time they learn to walk and recognize parents, they are also able to recognize, experience, and feel their bodies and change how they form attachments with others which set the stage for bonding and intimacy later in life.
Infants and Toddlers
Babies’ earliest emotional attachments are formed with their parents through physical contact that expresses their love. Being held and touched, kissed and hugged, snuggled and tickled allows babies to experience comforting, positive physical sensations associated with being loved which is the foundation of more mature forms of physical intimacy and love later in life. Their concerns include:
My body: Many parents get concerned when their kids touch and play with their genitals and baby boys have frequent erections, however these behaviors are normal and children naturally explore their bodies while many kids, especially toddlers, enjoy being naked.
Parent reaction: Parents voice/tone, words and facial expressions in response to sexual concerns raised by their children are child’s first lessons in sexuality. By not responding with anger, surprise, or disapproving words, you teach your child that their curiosity is normal part of life.
Gender awareness: From 2 to 3 years, children develop identity through sense of being a male or female. They understand the difference between boys and girls, and can identify themselves as either and how to behave like a boy or a girl, based on what they see from the older people, especially the parents.
Ages 3 to 5
At this age, most kids have developed a strong sense of being a boy or girl, and continue to explore their bodies even more purposefully. Do not scold them when they touch themselves to avoid prompting sense of guilt and shame. Explain that even though it feels good, touching genitals in public is inappropriate. Children continue to learn important sexual attitudes from parents and how parents react to people of the opposite sex to how they feel about nudity. Their concerns include:
Endless questions: As kids become curious about everything, it’s common for them to pose questions to their parents like “Where do babies come from?” or “Why doesn’t my sister have a penis?” answer the questions as honestly and as factually as possible. Find out what your child wants to know and then answer the specific question without elaborate details unless it is necessary.
Their bodies and others Bodies: They want to know about their bodies, and those of others. If theyplay doctor with another child around the same age, it’s important not to overreact since they want to know about others bodies and theirs too.
Boyfriends and girlfriends: kids talk about boy and girlfriend without attaching the same meanings to the word as adults do. Don’t encourage the behavior neither express concern but act eutral.
6 to 10 years old
At this age, children are interested in knowing about pregnancy, birth, and gender roles. Boys play with boys, and girls with girls. Peers and the media begin to have a bigger influence on sexual attitudes. If they don’t get resourceful help, they may turn to a peer or older children for information about sex, sexual organs, and reproduction from whom they will be misinformed. Their concerns and interests are:
Bad language: Children start picking negative language and slung from TV, movies, friends, and parents if they use it and use them without knowing their meaning. Calmly explain why the word is inappropriate and suggest better words to use next time.
Inappropriate jokes: They giggle and laugh over “dirty” jokes about sex, body parts, and sexual organs without understanding them or realizing the jokes can hurt other people. Calmly explain why the joke is inappropriate and give them an example of appropriate joke.
Animals and pets sexual behavior: Children see animals and pets having sex or engaging in sexual behaviors. Some react with surprise, disgust, or embarrassment, but most are curious and giggly. When kids ask about what these animals are doing, let them know sexuality is a natural part of life. Encourage natural curiosity, provide accurate information, and model an attitude of respect about reproduction.
Progression in life
As kids continue to understand and experience their bodies, and the physical changes of puberty emerge, your attitude and acceptance play important role in their healthy development. As kids mature sexually, they are excited and scared about growing up especially when they notice hair growing in new places, get their periods, or start having wet dreams. They spend a lot of time wondering if they’re “normal” and comparing themselves with their friends.
Children need to know what to expect in the months and years ahead, even if they’re too shy to ask. MLSC is established to help parents understand children while helping children by being frank and open in addressing their concerns, since by being open to your young child’s questions about bodies, babies, love, and sex, you set the stage for continued conversations and openness when puberty begins. An informed child is an empowered child and an empowered child will always make right decisions and know the right people to consult for help when the situation seems too complicated for him or her.