Have you ever caught your 3-year-old touching his/her genitals during diaper changes or even in public? How about inspecting another child’s… uh… ‘Anatomy’? ?
Well, it turns out the behaviour is normal according to a study which shows that a toddler’s penis can actually get erect.
Humans are highly sexual beings, even from the early stages of development. One of the founding fathers of psychology – Sigmund Freud – posed that from birth to age 6 children experience a series of phases of sexual development.
The Oral (0 – 1 year), the Anal (1 – 3 years) and Phallic/genital (3 – 6 years) stages of development, where sexual gratification comes from the mouth and putting objects in it, from holding and releasing faeces and urine, and from touching their genitals.
So why exactly should you start sex Ed early?
1. Because this is a critical learning period
Research (Meltem, Akhan, İbrahim, & Yildiz, 2015) shows that this age period – birth to age 6 – Is a very critical period where learning is fastest, and the child is affected the most from environmental factors.
So at this stage, if you catch them ‘playing doctor’ or touching their genitals during diaper changes, or in public, how you handle this would have a lasting effect on them.
If you aggressively remove their hands and yell at them, they would begin to see sex and related things as evil and an unspeakable taboo.
This means that if heaven forbid they are being molested, they would not be able to bring it to you, for fear that you will punish them for talking about or doing something ‘bad’.
2. It helps foster healthy sexual development
Many psychologists believe and teach that during the first few years of life, parents play a vital role in managing their children’s sexual and aggressive drives. Successfully doing so promotes proper sexual development in adulthood.
From birth to age 6, children experience a series of stages of sexual development. These manifest as gratification the child gets from their mouth and putting objects in it, from holding and releasing faeces and urine, and from touching their genitals.
As parents, our role is to guide our children through these stages, so that they do not become ‘sexually-developmentally impaired’ in the future.
3. Allows for stable relationships with the opposite sex in later life
Research into the lasting effects of early sex education shows that the sooner you become aware of the role you play in the personal development of your children, the sooner you will have a positive effect on your children’s sexual development.
A child who receives sexual education in a manner appropriate to his/her age would be expected to be more stable in his/her relationships with the opposite sex in later life.
4. Because this is a period when children are intensely curious, they would learn from somewhere else if you don’t teach
A lot of parents want to be the first to talk to their child about sex. But this is increasingly tricky in a sexually charged world. As a parent, you will end up racing to beat the media, their peers and possibly their school. The only way to do so is to get an early start.
Children at this stage are intensely curious about other people’s body as well as their own. You will often find them ‘playing doctor’ or saying things like “I’ll show you mine if you show me yours”.
If you don’t give them the answers they need, they will go seeking for it somewhere else where you cannot guarantee the accuracy.
5. Proper Sexuality Education Empowers them
Knowledge is power. Adequate sex education gives them the tools they need and empowers them to know which body parts are private; which ones people can touch and which ones others must not.
It also helps them be more assertive and less likely to be pressured into sex or be molested/raped, and more likely to report incidences to you, their number 1 most trusted source of information. ☺
6. Instils your family values
In the first few years of life, children learn the fastest and are most susceptible to environmental factors. Research shows that the chances that they will sustain learned attitudes, behaviour, and habits in the following years are incredibly high.
Multiple studies show that this period is when children form the basis of their personality. So he/she needs guidance about areas of development — even the sexual ones.
That means this is the best time to start instilling your religious, spiritual or moral family values about sex and related anatomy.
7. Because Sexuality Education is a lifelong process
Society generally considers the idea of sexuality as a thing of adolescence and is kept separate from childhood.
However, unlike a can of soda and Mentos mix, sexuality does not burst forth suddenly during adolescence; it starts from the moment a baby is born.
Multiple studies have confirmed that sexual education is a lifelong process that begins at birth.
8. It is less awkward
Children younger than 10 years old are not usually bashful about sex. So this is an ideal time to discuss the subject. A significant part of the awkwardness which – most parents fear – would be absent.
re different ideas on whether or not preschool children should receive sexual education. Which topics such teaching would include, and at what age such education should be started.
However, if in the first few years of life parents play a vital role in managing their children’s sexual and aggressive drives which promotes proper sexual development in adulthood, then who are we to deny our children proper sexual development by delaying Sexuality education?