I found my preschooler with his friends examining their private parts. Is this normal? What should I do?
Exploring body parts is completely natural for a preschool age child, and you should set healthy boundaries at a young age. Because he is becoming familiar with his body and noticing differences, it is natural for him to be curious about others’ bodies as well. Rather than shaming or disciplining your child about his curiosity, use this as a perfect teaching moment. You could say something like “you seem to be curious about other bodies, let’s talk about the questions you have” and follow up with a book from the library about bodies. You could also explain that it is OK for him to explore his body in private, but that it is not OK for him to look at or touch other people’s private areas or for others to touch his private areas.
Teaching that exploration is normal will allow your child to continue to develop a healthy attitude about self and sexuality, and having open and honest talks at a young age will help him feel comfortable to come to you as more questions arise.
For more information, please read the following website:
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
Last update: Wednesday, May 13, 2009