As a child begin to walk and talk, he/she is also learning about the body, it is important that fundamental lessons about the body is given to him/her by the parent, it is this lessons that the child build on as he/she grow.
Toddlers 12-24 months
- Create awareness
it is good to let toddlers know the names of all their body parts including the genitals (penis, vagina, clitoris, anus…) using the correct names for all body parts, this will make them communicate better to health issues, injuries or sexual abuse. It will also help them to understand that these parts are as normal as others. It will promote self confidence and a positive body image in the toddler.
- Teach against self stimulation
It is normal for toddlers to express their natural sexual curiosity through self stimulation, boys pull at their penises and girls rubs their vaginal. Whenever this happens, as a parent gently distract the child and tell him/her that as pleasurable as it may be it is not a right thing to do.
- Educate about privacy
Teach your child that no one is allowed to touch the private parts of her body make them know that parents and caregivers will touch the private parts when it is neccessary like periods of bathing, clean ups… If you are disturbed about your child’s behaviour towards her private parts at this age, consult a doctor.
Ages 2 to 4 years
- Teach about Privacy
They should understand that their body is their own and they have the command over it. They should be taken further to know the role of sexuality in relationships. Establish rules around playing with strangers and tell them what to do if they come across a person that makes them uncomfortable.
They should also be taught how to respect people privacy, for instance, whenever someone is bathing or dressing in a room, they shouldn’t just open the door but knock to seek the person’s consent.
Some of the questions they ask
Naturally at this stage, children get curious about why boys and girls have different genitals and have many questions on their mind, when they ask questions about their body or yours, don’t just laugh or get embarrassed but face the questions and offer age appropriate responses. For instance,
- if a child ask why boys and girls have different genitals, help out by saying a boy body and a girl body are made differently.
- why do you have hair down there and I don’t have? tell the child that our body changes as we get older.
- How do babies get inside mummy’s tommy? tell the child a daddy and a mummy comes together to make a baby and it grows in the tummy.
- How does baby comes out of the tummy? respond by saying, a mummy pushes the baby out of the vagina when the baby is fully grown.
As your child grow and ask more detailed questions, you can provide more detailed responses. answers must be given with carefully selected terms so as not to get the child confused.