Many parents wonder about the sexual development of their children. Quite naturally, concerns arise when the responses plunge into ambiguous areas of interpretation rather than shedding light on the situation. Because it must be recognized, sometimes, the line is thin between a healthy behavior and in phase with the age of the child and that which is not quite so. The question related to intimate touches comes up quite frequently in particular. How to navigate?
Natural or problematic
To begin with, children’s sexuality does not correspond to adult sexuality. From birth, children experience a psychosexual development of their own. Explorations and games are immediately part of their way of discovering the world in which they live. And over time, all of this changes. The same is true with regard to sexuality. Some behaviors are very appropriate at a given age, but can become worrisome or even problematic at other times.
A child who develops healthily from a psychosexual point of view will not seek to reproduce adult sexual behavior, because for him these behaviors are not eroticized. The parent or guardian should be able to try to understand what happens in the case of manifestations of problematic sexualized behavior. As the writings reviewed on this subject by the Marie-Vincent Foundation clearly state: “Healthy sexual behavior in toddlers is motivated by: curiosity, exploration, the search for sensory pleasure. Still according to the Marie-Vincent Foundation: “Depending on their experience, a child can learn to translate their anxieties, shame, guilt, fears and traumas through their sexuality and thus exhibit disturbing or problematic sexual behavior. ”
Discovery behaviors linked to genital stimulation in young children, which are called self-stimulation (to be distinguished from masturbation, which it refers to eroticization) are therefore part of a healthy development process. In the absence of developmental problems, self-stimulation should be limited (place and time) and not outlawed.
When to worry
- When self-stimulation becomes the only way to reduce stress or to manage anxiety;
- When the behavior, despite having been reframed, continues;
- When self-stimulation takes such a place in the life of the child that he comes to abandon his other activities;
- When the excessive frequency causes injury to his genitals;
- When the child involves or tries to involve other children in his self-stimulation games.
What to do if you are worried
Every situation that concerns you deserves attention. If necessary, do not hesitate to seek help from qualified professionals.
If you witness inappropriate acts or behavior on the part of a child, have received confidences of sexual assault, or have suspicions about the physical, emotional or sexual integrity of a minor child, you have the obligation to report it to the DPJ.
To continue thinking: