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Is exploring each others private parts normal in 5-year-olds?

Thursday, 03 January 2008
Answered by: Dr. S. Anandalakshmy
Consultant in Child Development & Education,

Chennai
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Q. My son and two of our neighbourhood children (all three 5 years old) have been taking their clothes off in front of each other and showing and touching each others private parts. Is this normal in 5-year-olds? The other two children are fraternal twins (a boy and a girl). Their parents are freaking out and making it a sexual issue. My belief is that it is normal curiosity, however, I do not want to minimise their feelings. Please advise.

A.  You are right. It is normal curiosity at this age, to find out what the real differences are between boys and girls. Since boys and girls look approximately the same at this age, except for their sex organs, children want to know where the actual difference is. Since your son’s friends are twins, it is quite likely that the boy of the pair told your son that his sister is different. The fact that they explored each other in hiding shows that they know that this kind of curiosity would meet with the disapproval of parents. There is no need to make an issue of it. It is better to be open and tell them that now they know that girls and boys are different, they should stop the activity of taking off their clothes together and that it does not meet with parental or social approval. Do all this on a low key and a matter-of fact way.

A.  You are right. It is normal curiosity at this age, to find out what the real differences are between boys and girls. Since boys and girls look approximately the same at this age, except for their sex organs, children want to know where the actual difference is. Since your son’s friends are twins, it is quite likely that the boy of the pair told your son that his sister is different. The fact that they explored each other in hiding shows that they know that this kind of curiosity would meet with the disapproval of parents. There is no need to make an issue of it. It is better to be open and tell them that now they know that girls and boys are different, they should stop the activity of taking off their clothes together and that it does not meet with parental or social approval. Do all this on a low key and a matter-of fact way.

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