Dealing with Kids’ Sexual Curiosity

A young child’s expressed interest in sex and nudity can be uncomfortable for parents, to say the least; however, a new report from the American Academy of Pediatrics helps parents and doctors determine when such behavior is driven by normal curiosity and when abuse may be involved.  All very timely information, given how the Jaycee Dugard tragedy has pushed sexual abuse to the forefront of our national dialogue.  (Now that I’m a parent, I can barely stand to watch the news anymore.  Too damn heartbreaking.  And likely to make me put a leash on my daughter until she is at least 30 years old.  Okay, no, 40 years old.)

Here’s the list of what the pediatricians say is normal, common sexual behavior in 2- to 6-year-olds:

  • Touching/masturbating genitals in public or private
  • Looking at or touching a peer’s or new sibling’s genitals
  • Showing genitals to peers
  • Standing or sitting too close to someone
  • Trying to see peers or adults naked

Meanwhile, the pediatricians say that sexual behaviors like these are rarely normal and can signal physical or sexual abuse:

  • Any sexual behaviors that involve children four or more years apart
  • Different sexual behaviors displayed on a daily basis
  • Sexual behavior that causes emotional or physical pain
  • Sexual behavior associated with physical aggression
  • Sexual behavior that involves coercion

If one of these red flags is detected, they should be further examined to see what may be happening in their homes or elsewhere in their lives.

And if you find your child doing THIS:



Congratulations!  This means he will go on to have a highly successful and lucrative career in sitcoms.

Candy Kirby

Candy is the founder of The Mom Beat and a humor columnist whose work as appeared in Redbook, Nickelodeon's NickMom, Disney's BabyZone, HelloGiggles and eHow. She also used to be a staff writer for the soap opera, The Bold and the Beautiful, where she penned many scripts featuring prolonged heated stares and countless “Who’s the Daddy?” story lines. Candy lives in Los Angeles with her husband, two young kids and three rescue Persian cats, the latter of whom are the real brains behind this operation.