- Rhythmic manipulation associated with masturbation begins at age 2 1/2 to 3 years and is considered natural sexual expression - brings comfort and calm
- Gender identity (maleness, femaleness) is typically formed by age 2
- Little boys and girls can experience orgasm from masturbation although boys will not ejaculate until puberty
- They want to learn the names of all body parts
- There is increased curiosity of adult gendered social behaviors
Three to Seven
- Preschool kids are interested in everything – including sexuality
- The like to urinate in all kinds of positions and places
- They are often very affectionate – love hugging
- Lots of curiosity and kissing other adults and children
- May imitate adult social sexual behavior
- Very common to play ‘doctor’ and ‘look see’
- They understand ‘living together’ as family and may talk about ‘getting married’ when they are older
- Normal sexual experimentation is spontaneous, silly, and light-hearted, and although may be embarrassing, it is uncommon to involve anger, shame, fear, or anxiety.
Eight to Twelve
- Puberty !!!
- Girls: breast buds and pubic hair (usually by age 10); periods 10 – 13
- Boys: further development of penis and testicles(usually by age11); voice changes; pubic hair
- May become more modest even with same sex parent
- Masturbation increases and exposure to internet pornography is common. Need lots of help, boundaries and supervision managing the breadth of sexual information in media.
- Lots of questions about intercourse, petting, oral sex, and anal sex, homosexuality, rape and incest – but may be more shy to ask. Requires more casual and stealth approaches. This is a key time to discuss sexuality and reproduction in more detail.
- Same gender play and exploration common
- In the company of same sex friends, masturbating together (boys) or looking at or touching each other’s genitals is common among pre-adolescent boys and girls.
- Some group ‘dating’. Interest in social media increases as can secrecy. Be aware and open. Be willing to set boundaries for their protection and to teach them how to manage social media and the increasing complexity in relationships at school.
- Increased desire to attend events, parties and may develop public ‘crushes’ or ‘go out’, but this is mostly a social occurrence