toddler feet

Toddler Sexuality

How to talk to your children about sexuality

Children have been shown to be sexual from birth (infant boys have erections, infant girls show vaginal lubrication). By the end of the child’s first year, both boys and girls commonly touch their genitals. Between 1-2 years of age, children can learn names for body parts, including their genitals. By 15-18 months, toddlers become especially interested in exploring and stimulating their genitals and may not understand that this should be done in private.”

Here are some ideas for answering questions:

  • Use proper names for the child’s genitals, use them in conversation
  • Try not to be shocked by sexual behavior or questions
  • Do not shame or punish your child for using sexual words or behaviors
  • With sex play, children do need to be stopped, without shaming.
  • Be vigilant around sex play between a much older child or if play is secretive or forceful
  • Set limits around masturbating in public. By age 2 or 3, children can understand what is acceptable public behavior
  • Include information to safeguard children against sexual abuse. Talk about what is appropriate regarding touching private parts and keeping secrets. But avoid making your child unnecessarily fearful.
  • Do not perpetuate the idea that the child will marry Mom or Dad; help your child understand s/he will grow up to marry someone else.
  • Restrict television viewing that includes sexual content, avoid exposing your child to sexual information s/he’s not ready for
  • Keep answers simple, avoid overwhelming the child with too much information. Ask the child for his/her answer and build on that
  • Give information gradually over time
  • If your child asks about sexuality in public, tell her you will talk about it later at home and follow through.


Babies DON’T Come from Tummies!!

Where do babies come from?

Babies grow inside the mother, in a special place called the womb.

How do mommies get babies?

The baby starts from a little egg inside the mother. It grows in a special place called the uterus.

Can I make a baby from the egg inside?

Only grownups can make a baby. It takes a man and a woman.

How do babies get out?

The mother has a special place where the baby can come out, called a vagina.

What does the daddy do to make a baby?

Mommy and Daddy get close and have a special cuddle in bed. The daddy has special cells called sperm and the mommy has egg cells and when they join, a new life forms.

All information adapted from Sarah Landy (2009) Pathways to Competence: Encouraging Healthy Social and Emotional Development in Young Children.

You can find more information on this topic and how to talk with your children about sexuality at your local library.

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