Quick Reference Guide: Age-Appropriate Sexual Behavior

- By: Melissa Pintor Carnagey, LBSW, CLC -

When we become parents, we're often bombarded with books, advice, and classes that prepare us for the milestones of our child's development such as teething, crawling, potty training and walking. When it comes to sexual health milestones though, American culture in particular can go a little silent on parents. This leaves many scratching their heads or biting their nails in concern whenever their child displays certain behaviors like touching their genitals, playing doctor or looking up porn.

We've created these quick reference guides with the hope of answering questions you may be having as you watch your child grow. Most often, a child's behavior is truly normal and age-appropriate. Keep in mind that items listed in the NO sections are not always a direct indication of abuse but should be an indicator that further exploration and follow-up is needed. Professional help and support may be warranted, especially if a child seems resistant to establishing healthy behaviors or talking through concerns. Our resource page has a list of some great organizations that specialize in the prevention and identification of child sexual abuse; please do reference them if needed. As always, feel free to contact us if you'd like to discuss particular questions you are having as it can be hard to separate our own fears and messages about sex from what we are witnessing in a developing child.