Dear Dr. Bill,
I have three boys, ages six, four, and two. Recently, when I was babysitting my friend’s five-year-old daughter, my oldest son and this girl went to the bathroom together and they noticed “the difference.” I explained that they were too old to do that, and they seemed to understand. But now my boys are extremely curious, and my friend is concerned about what her daughter was exposed to. Isn’t this curiosity normal for children this age? What should my response be to my children, as well as to this girl’s mother?
Young children have a natural curiosity about sex differences and body parts. My advice is not to get all worked up over this incident.
In fact, the worst thing that you and the other mom can do is to make a big deal out of it. One of the reasons your boys may be so curious is that they’ve picked up on the fact that you and the little girl’s mom are so upset about what happened.
If you simply let it go and answer their questions in an age-appropriate, matter-of-fact manner, the issue will soon go away on its own.
That being said, parents should be concerned if a child shows an abnormal pre-occupation with sexuality or seems to have knowledge that seems unusual for a child their age.
That may indicate that they have been exposed to inappropriate sexual information from an older child, an adult, cable television, or the internet. In this case though, it sounds like a simple case of “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.”
Let me recommend a wonderful series of books on sexuality written for children and their parents. It’s called God’s Design for Sex by Stan and Brenna Jones.
Thanks for writing, Jennifer.
If you have a question for me about family issues or Christian living, click the “Questions” link on the Family Expert page.
Listen to today’s audio here.