The term “sex play” is used to describe the ways that children play using sex themes. Examples of sex play are masturbation, playing doctor, and undressing to show their bodies. Sex play is normal. Many children do these things. If children seem to do them all the time, though, there could be a problem.
Think about how you could use children’s sex play to teach children about sexuality and privacy. When you notice their play, you may be able to figure out what children are thinking. Some children may be very interested in birth and pretending to be pregnant. That might happen when a mother is expecting. That kind of play is helpful to the children. Other children may be fascinated with bodies and differences. If they undress themselves, that is a good time to talk about the differences between girls and boys. But children also need to learn to stay dressed in public. If a child is doing things that are not appropriate in your childcare setting, work with that child. Set rules about privacy. Tell them about “good touch” and “bad touch.” Help them learn about sexuality, and help them learn how to get help if someone does something inappropriate.
children choose sex play because they are bored or not interested in other
things that are happening. It is helpful to keep children busy. Give them
positive choices of activities. Let children have active, physical choices
every day. If a child begins sex play, you may still be able to distract
him with another choice.
But some people believe that masturbation is not “right.” While some ethical or religious groups teach that masturbation is OK, others teach that it is wrong. As a childcare provider, it is not your job to tell the child what to believe. Providers need to respect parents’ views on this topic.
you see a child masturbating, you can make sure the child understands
that it should be done only in private. Encourage the child to choose
another activity. You also might want to talk to his parents. Tell the
parents how you would like to deal with the situation. Ask for their feedback
also do not need to worry if a boy dresses up like a girl or a girl dresses
up like a boy. A boy who plays with girls’ toys probably just likes
those toys. Also, boys may take the role of the “Mommy” when
playing house and girls may be the “Daddy.” These behaviors
are appropriate and normal as children are learning about the world through
information with parents about children’s sex play and what
parents can expect from children of different ages. (This link is
targeted at children between the ages of 3 and 7.) Talk to them about
common questions and how they can build their confidence in talking
with children about sexuality.
For more information, contact Judith A. Myers-Walls, PhD, CFLE at firstname.lastname@example.org
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