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My daughter just came home from a sleepover, and revealed to me that she and her friends were playing strip poker. My daughter said the older sister’s friend is the one who initiated it. Eleven years old seems too old for "curiosity". Is it? How should I handle this?

Children become curious about gender differences, sexuality and changing bodies during childhood and remain curious throughout adolescence. It is highly likely that these girls were engaged in that curiosity and were using the activity as a way to understand self and others.


Although it is likely that this scenario is harmless, it is a wonderful opportunity for you to use this as a moment to educate and share your feelings about sexual decision making with your daughter. Research shows that parents are the most influential factor in the sexual decision-making process during adolescence, and the earlier and more frequent the communication, the better the decision-making. It is wonderful that your daughter is willing to share her experiences with you. Continuing to develop your relationship with her by allowing open and honest discussions about sexual decision-making will help her continue to make good decisions as she grows.


There are many good resources available for youth at most libraries on the topic of puberty and changing bodies. There is a great book called Changing Bodies, Changing Lives by Ruth Bell that might help answer some of your daughter’s questions.

There is also additional information on the Missouri families website at




Kim Allen, M.A., M.F.T., Associate State Specialist, Director, Center on Adolescent Sexuality, Pregnancy and Parenting (CASPP), Human Development & Family Studies, University of Missouri Extension






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Last update: Wednesday, May 13, 2009





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