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Quick reference medical handouts used by Pediatric offices


Sexual behaviors in 2 - 6 year olds. What is normal and what is not


Seeing a child engage in sexual behavior can alarm parents, making them worry about whether it's normal or an indication of sexual abuse, but the American Academy of Pediatrics says not to worry as long the acts are brief, occur infrequently, and the child easily can be easily distracted away The AAP issued a guide for parents of two to six year olds to help them decide what is age appropriate sexual activity.

The guide includes tables that rate sexual behaviors as either "normal, common"; "less common normal"; "uncommon"; and "rarely normal."

 

NORMAL and COMMON SEXUAL BEHAVIORS IN 2 - 6 YEAR OLDS

  • touching/masturbating genitals in public or private
  • looking at or touching a peer's or new sibling's genitals
  • showing genitals to peers
  • standing or sitting too close to someone
  • trying to see peers or adults naked
 

LESS COMMON NORMAL SEXUAL BEHAVIORS IN 2 - 6 YEAR OLDS

  • Rubbing body against others
  • Trying to insert tongue in mouth while kissing

  • Touching peer/adult genitals
  • Crude mimicking of movements associated with sexual acts

  • Sexual behaviors that are occasionally, but persistently disruptive to others.
  • Behaviors are transient and moderately responsive to distraction

 

UNCOMMON SEXUAL BEHAVIORS IN NORMAL 2 - 6 YEAR OLDS

  • Asking peer/adult to engage in specific sexual act(s)
  • Inserting objects into genitals

  • Explicitly imitating intercourse
  • Touching animal genitals

  • Sexual behaviors that are frequently disruptive to others.
  • Behaviors are persistent and resistant to parental distraction

 

INAPPROPRIATE SEXUAL BEHAVIORS IN 2 - 6 YEARS OLDS THAT ARE RARELY NORMAL *

  • any sexual behaviors that involve children 4 or more years apart
  • different sexual behaviors displayed on a daily basis
  • sexual behavior that causes emotional or physical pain
  • sexual behavior associated with physical aggression
  • sexual behavior that involves coercion
  • Behaviors are persistent and child becomes angry if distracted

* Kids who engage in any of these might require referral to therapists for further assessment and treatment.

 
courtesy of the American Academy of Pediatrics and posted on kidsgrowth 09-10-09. Source: "The Evaluation of Sexual Behaviors in Children."Pediatrics, September 2009.
 

 

As a reminder, this information should not be relied on as medical advice and is not intended to replace the advice of your child’s pediatrician. Please read our full disclaimer.

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