Child and sexuality
Childhood is a significant time for a person’s sexual development and identification. Sexual development is a lifelong process. Many mothers and fathers wonder what age their child should be when they talk to them about sexuality and what to say.
When talking to children about sexuality, it means talking about the body and looking after oneself, about relationships and one’s rights. Sometimes also there may be questions about body parts and where babies come from. A child is interested in human life. Child learns about his or her body by touching and comparing it to others’.
A child’s thoughts about sexuality are not spontaneous. A child collects information about sexuality at home, from various media and from friends and, moreover, observes his or her environment all the time: what people talk about, what they do, who touches who and how they do it. A child should see shows of affection and admiration. This develops a solid foundation for good relationships and respect.
A child’s questions regarding sexuality should not be ignored, rejected or disapproved. Otherwise the child might think it is somehow bad or inappropriate. We should tell the child about sexuality in positive terms because it relates to his or her life, body and self-respect. At the same time, we establish a foundation for his or her future sexuality. A child needs age-appropriate clear and simple information. Even a 4 to 5-year-olds require matter-of-fact answers because they will ask their friends, if they do not get answers from their parents, and then the information may be very confusing and exaggerated.
Steps of sexuality
1. I am wonderful! (0–4 yrs.) A child gets to know him- or herself and needs a lot of loving care. Interested in his or her gender and differences from others.
- Loves and accepts self unconditionally
- Enjoys touch, body
- Is curious
- Explores his or her body, plays with every part of it
- Learning to compose oneself
2. A crush (3–8 yrs.) A child has crushes and friends and he or she is learning appropriate expressions of emotions. He or she learns about the meaning of friendship, privacy and boundaries.
- Able to express his or her feelings and is fond of many things and people
- Crushes, friendships and love – what are they?
- Fascinated by hugging and kissing games
- What are the boundaries when you show affection?
- Do others have a different feeling?
3. Admiration for an adult (3–9 yrs.) A child falls in love with someone in his or her close circle. A child also starts to wonder where babies come from.
- Finding a target for feelings of love. Often a child declares his or her love to the parent.
- Jealousy and coquetting may exist.
- What do different genders do?
- Am I loved and important?
4. Crush on an idol (6–12 yrs.) Crush on a recognised and admired adult. A child dreams about success and may identify with his or her idol.
- The crush is admired by the public, often a celebrity
- Or the crush may be someone admired and identified with
- Thoughts about adulthood: Will I have a relationship one day?
- Long-distance crush is a daydream.
- One cannot have his or her parent is a disappointment.