Children and Sexuality

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AGE Birth to 3 years

How Children Understand Sexuality
Young preschoolers have a whole new world to discover. Discovering
their bodies is part of that process. Genital discovery is a normal
part of a young child’s curiosity. Expect questions such as “What
is that?” “Is that a part of me?” and “Why am I different from
her?”

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Ways To Respond
Children need to know their bodies are okay. Use correct
terminology for all body parts. Help children accept their
God-given bodies. Don’t react squeamishly or negatively when
changing diapers or during potty training. This attitude teaches
children that certain parts of their body are shameful or
dirty.

AGE 4 to 5 years

How Children Understand Sexuality
Children this age recognize and become curious about anatomical
differences. They’re more aware that some people are boys and some
are girls. They desire more detail to questions such as “Where do
babies come from?” “Why am I me?” and “Why are you, you?”

Ways To Respond
Read books about babies and baby animals. Help children understand
a family’s love and care for them. Teach children the biblical
aspect of sexuality. Explain why God designed them differently-so
they can grow up to be mothers and fathers. Explain good and bad
touches of others. Reinforce correct body terminology.

AGE 6 to 8 years

How Children Understand Sexuality
Primary-age children are beginning to reason. Kids are concerned
about their bodies and sexual matters. They need honest, accurate
answers to their questions. Boys especially have sexual discussions
with their same-sex friends. They want to know “why” and “how.”
They ask questions such as “Why did God create us this way?” “How
do you really make babies?” and “Can I play ‘doctor’ or
‘house’?”

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Ways To Respond
Tell primary children that our sexuality is a normal gift from
God. Our genitals are just like other parts of our body-brains,
arms, legs-and that each has a particular function. Celebrate with
children that God made people female or male. Establish positives
about each role. Give straightforward answers to children’s
questions. Remind them that if someone touches them
inappropriately, they should tell their parents or a teacher.
Introduce sex education resources such as books and videos.

AGE 9 to 11 years

How Children Understand Sexuality
Kids at this age are either going through or are on the verge of
puberty. They often compare their physical development to their
peers’ appearance. Kids often feel embarrassed or abnormal. Changes
in their bodies make them feel insecure. Older kids have an
increased interest in the opposite sex. They ask questions such as
“How do I deal with these changes?” “How should I feel about them?”
and “Am I normal?”

Ways To Respond
Initiate formal Christian sex education. Help kids and parents
build trust and listening skills. Provide parent-approved classes
to prepare older kids for puberty. Stress that puberty is normal
and occurs at different rates. Balance peer pressure, healthy
self-esteem, and self-responsibility. Explain that temptation is
normal. Emphasize that abstinence is God’s plan and that virginity
is the acceptable lifestyle. Underline God’s grace and power as
well as your availability and support.


Larry Miller, a children’s minister in West Virginia, has
developed a sex education course for his church. Please keep in
mind that phone numbers, addresses, and prices are subject to
change.

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