Childhood Genital Touch - it's not sexual
I always discuss this at parent education sessions. Children will touch their own genitals, it is a normal behaviour, it feels good for them and it is not sexual. The problem is the adult's perception of it as 'sexual'.
Children have the capability to experience pleasurable touch, they will self sooth and find relaxation in habits such as stroking parts of their body or sucking their thumb or twirling their hair. For some this invovles touching the genitals.
We need to accept this as normal behaviour so that we can respond positively to it. Reacting to a child in a negative tone: "Don't do that? That's dirty/or naughty" will only give them a negative message about pleasure, their bodies and whether they can touch it or not.
(By the way, children can touch their genitals that results in arousal (penile erections, vaginal lubrication/vulval swelling) - but it is caused by a reflex from the spinal cord - not 'brain arousal' as adults know it.)
Adult brains have layer upon layer of a their own sexual journey, this 'stuff' is not relevant to childhood sexual behaviour or development or conversations we need to have with them. Especially if our thoughts are negative and are based on shame, guilt and perhaps trauma.
We need to envisage a positive journey for our children, as a sexual being, into adult hood. Young children do not expereince sexual pleasure, desire, intent, or attraction, like adults do. We need to strip back (excuse the pun) our layers of 'stuff' in order to respond positively to our children about human sexuality.
This journey starts at toddler age, knowing the correct names of private body parts, knowing who can and can not touch them, fostering body autonomy and healthy touch messages.
Name Correct Body Parts
We know so little about Female Pleasure
Females especially need as much help as possible to understand their bodies and how they work. Read here about how we generaly have very limited knowledge about female sexual pleasure, including getting the anatomy wrong.
An example of misinformation is this image below from a 2016 Feminist publication - *Crafting with Feminism, (a mother from school showed this to me), which labels a vulva as a vagina, great book but dissapointing inaccuarcy for a feminist publication.
It would be strange if we called a penis a scrotum would'nt it?
Sexuality Education Links
Attend a parent presentation at your school
Does your child know what a vagina is?
Clitoris: the only part of the human body solely designed for pleasure
Advice and tips for talking to kids about sex
Responding to Genital Touch Video
* Crafting with Feminism by Bonnie Burto, 2016
With 23 years experience as a Sexual Health Nurse & 15 years as an Educator, I'm delivering information & support to Parents, Teachers, Health Professionals and Young People with the aim of encouraging essential conversations about all aspects of Human Sexuality. Hope you find it useful to your situation. Good luck with your conversations, Vanessa x