Sexual Play: What’s Normal
A common part of normal sexual development between ages 3 and 5 is for children to get undressed together and look at each other's genitals. This is their attempt to learn about sexual differences. There's no reason why you can't turn this discovery into a positive one.
- First: After your child's friends have gone home, read him a book about sex education. Help him talk about how boys and girls bodies differ.
- Second: Tell your child that genitals are private. That's why we wear clothes. It's okay to see other people's genitals, but not to touch them.
- Third: In the future, supervise the play a little more closely. If the children occasionally expose their bodies to each other, just ignore it. But if it seems to be becoming more frequent, tell the children it's not polite and has to stop. If this doesn't get your message across, give them a 5 minute time-out in separate rooms, or send them home. Parents, it's up to you to put the brakes on undressing games. If you don't, they usually escalate into touching and poking. But keep your response as low key as possible.
If you have any questions about sex education, consult your healthcare provider.
Disclaimer: This information is not intended to be a substitute for professional medical advice. It is provided for educational purposes only. You assume full responsibility for how you choose to use this information.
Author and Senior Reviewer: Barton D. Schmitt, M.D. FAAP
Last Review: 6/1/2008
Last Revised: 6/1/2000
Copyright 1994-2008 Barton Schmitt, M.D. Parent Advice Messages.