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Eva Paris @paris_eva

There are instincts and reflexes in the baby widely commented, although this is not given too much importance or is a somewhat relegated temal. Babies are born with a sexual impulse, an impulse not as developed as that of feeding, sleeping or receiving affection, but an observable impulse after all.

For example, boys can have erections at birth or soon after, and children sometimes before three years of age also play with self-pleasing games that child health experts do not hesitate to qualify as masturbation. They are already showing us that they feel pleasure with their body.

Even before, approximately one year of age is when boys and girls instinctively realize the pleasant sensation that this touching produces, unlike that which they can feel when touching other parts of the body.

Touching the genitals is a natural attitude, and our reaction to this fact will provide valuable information to the child. A few more facts that we add to the information about sex that we are giving to children as parents, many times without realizing it.

All parents can be surprised to see our children rubbing their genitals, especially if they do it in public. It can be disconcerting at times, and maybe some situations are embarrassing.

What can be done in these cases is to distract them by talking about anything else that captures their interest, giving them a toy, or talking about the topic but always naturally, without anger or brusqueness.

If it is at home where he touches frequently, we should check if he does it out of boredom, because probably if we propose a game or perform any activity with them that entertains them and keeps them active and fun they will stop touching each other so much.

Our relaxed attitude on the subject will be fundamental so that taboos or false ideas are not established. If they are punished or pressured to stop doing so, we will probably get the opposite effect. Talking about the issue is the best long-term resource.

How to talk to young children about their sexual impulses

But what can we tell our young children about masturbation? We can tell you that touching your body is not bad, that dads also do it with their own bodies, but that it is better to do it in private. Intimacy is the way to explore the body.

What we should avoid is to tell them lies about how harmful it could be for their health, as has been done at certain times, and of course not to scare them with any kind of myth, history or threats about what might happen to them. Masturbate, procure your own pleasure, is a natural attitude that takes place in privacy as part of the development of people.

Remember that in this issue the "problem" we have adults, for children there is no impediment to touch where they like, in the same way that they choose the food or cartoons that they like, no matter if they are with presence of other people or not.

Of course, addressing now a very sensitive issue, the prevention of sexual abuse, we must explain that it is something they can do with their own bodies but nobody else, and that in case someone wanted to touch them they have to tell him immediately and without any fear of dad or mom.

By five or six years it is very likely that the frequency of touching will decrease or, at least, that they will do so more quietly. Later, in adolescence, masturbation is almost universal, in relation to hormonal changes and the beginning of sexual desire, although that is another story.

In the way we have indicated, understanding that it is a normal process and talking to young children about what they do, we accept the sexual impulse in children as something natural, without drama, helping them to understand and accept it as part of their sexuality as well as it was ours.

More information | Aepap: Masturbation in preschoolers, Aepap: child and adolescent sexuality as an element of health Foto | seyed mostafa zamani on Flickr-CC In Babies and more | Touching the genitals

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