If a child is playing with a friend and they engage in typical body exploration play it usually has some, if not all, of the following characteristics:
- They are good friends and are close and regular playmates
- Their curiosity is good humored and the kids are having fun and are happy.
- It is mutual and they agree to play this way. There are no threats, bribery or coercion.
- The behavior is spontaneous and happens when they are playing a game or already doing something together.
A really quick way to assess whether a behavior is typical for a kid is to ask yourself, “Is this something adults or teens would do?” If the answer is no, then it’s most likely a common kid behavior.
For example, every week my husband gets together with his fellow motorcycle maniac pals and they work on bikes, grill steaks and drink beer. Do you think my husband and his platonic friend Jon, pop off into a corner and have a Penis Meeting? The idea probably made you laugh.
This is something most guys just do not do when they platonically hang out together. And for the record, Kerry and Jon do not have Penis Meetings— I asked.
Just because these behaviors are considered a typical part of childhood development, it does not mean you allow the children to continue to play this way.
If you do not redirect their behavior:
- The play may continue and become problematic and sexualized, because it really does feel good when someone touches their privates.
- The children will learn it is okay to explore privates with people they know, love and trust, which will make them vulnerable and an easy target for sexual abuse.
- They will continue to play these games with other kids and possibly perpetrate sexualized behavior with another child.
Calmly interrupt their behavior. Explain that it’s “not okay and not safe” to play this way. Remind them of your rules about bodies — private parts are private and the rule is no looking at or touching.
Most of the time they are merely curious and nothing truly abusive is going on. If you are unsure or worried, let me know and we can schedule a consultation.
More info? StopItNow.org
PS: You know I’m on a mission to help 1 Million MORE kids grow up to be healthy and whole adults, right? Be a pal and share this! Thanks!