You don’t need to address the sweating-inducing topic of sexuality in kindergarten unless asked, but you should teach your child the proper names of their body parts, such as vagina and penis, by preschool.
“This normalizes that there is nothing shameful about any part of their body, particularly their private parts,” says Eleanor Weekes, supervisor of Therapy Services at Community Partners, a Palm Beach County nonprofit funded by Children’s Services Council. “The earlier you start, the less stigma there will be.”
Weekes reminds parents it’s vital to keep an open mind when talking with your children about sexual health.
“In general, if parents have an open relationship talking with their kids about their bodies when they are young and they keep talking with them, it makes it easier to have these conversations with them as they get older,” she says.
Three-year-olds may begin to show an interest in basic sexuality, both their own and of the opposite sex, according to HealthyChildren.org. They may ask where babies come from or why boys' and girls' bodies are different. They may touch their genitals and even show interest in other children’s genitals. These are normal signs, not adult sexual inclinations.
However, your child needs to learn what is right and wrong to do. Setting limits to exploration is a family matter. You may decide to teach your child the following:
- Interest in genital organs is healthy and natural.
- Nudity and sexual play in public are not all right.
- Nobody, including close friends and relatives, may touch their private parts. The exceptions are doctors and nurses during exams and parents when trying to find the cause of any pain in the genital area.