The concept of sexual identity in Early Childhood
Children begin to recognize their sexual identity with toilet training from the age of 2-3 years. However, they are aware that the appearance, tone and attitude of the mother and father are different, before the age of 2-3 years. A few of the reasons affecting this awareness are that the children have different siblings from different genders, and that children from different genders come together with pre-school education. Children who have such a social background are more likely to reach this awareness later. However, children who do not go to school, have no siblings and have a limited social environment can reach this awareness later. However, the child must be aware of the his/her sex until the age of 5 , and that he / she has differences with other gender identities. It is expected that these concepts will be analyzed and learned in the family and the child can be able to pronounce the girl / boy identities.
The child begins to ask questions about sexuality at about 3-4 years of age. And the child waits for answers from the most trusted people- mom and dad. It is important for the child to ask the parents questions and continue to ask them these questions. The aim should be that the child asks questions and receives his answers without hesitation from the people he trusts most. In such a case, if the mom and the dad will postpone the answers of the question, or if the parents exhibits a judgmental attitude, the child will stop asking questions and look for answers elsewhere. Such attitudes like”It’s too early to talk about them. You will understand when you grow up.” are not the right way to communicate with them. The child should be given as short and simple answers as possible.
Some children are more interested in issues related to sexuality, while some children may be more disinterested and ask less questions. However, it should be noted that if the child did not ask any questions about sexuality until he was in primary school, he would have been suppressed, prevented from asking questions, he might have been rejected, or had been searching his answers for other sources, either right or wrong. In such cases, parents should take responsibility and give answers to the child that can satify him and encourage the child to ask questions.
Sexual Development in Boys and Girls
Boys aged 3 to 6 years become interested in their mothers. And they may want to see their mother’s body and touch her. They describe the mother as an individual of the opposite sex. As a result of this interest he wants to be like a father, he imitates the father and he can be jealous of him. He talks like a father, he acts like him, he wants to be shaved like him.
For girls, this is the opposite. Girls accept the father as an authority, love him, connect him. As a result of this admiration, she mimics the mother, acts like her, and tries to dress like her.
At this point, it is important to note that sexual identity shouldnt be attributed to children directly by giving them some attitude and behavior. For example, such approaches like “Men don’t cry.”, “Girls don’t wear blue, they don’t like blue.” will cause some problems, such as not being able to express themselves well in the future. It should be kept in mind that children are good observers and learn some behavior patterns over time.
Masturbation In Early Childhood
Masturbation is the condition where the child stimulates his body with his sexual organs and gets pleasure from it. The first masturbation occurs when the child wants to stimulate his or her sexual organs with any object, household, hand or toy, and to see that he receives pleasure from this stimulation. They often explore these behaviors randomly, and continue if they enjoy it.
Children can also masturbate with his friends through various games. They may want to explore the bodies of their friends. They may want to see their sexual organs and touch them. This is an extremely normal behavior. In such cases, the child can be asked politely what he is doing without offending.
“These places are sensitive. That’s why you feel pleasure and feeling like that.”
“It will be more appropriate to do it when you are alone, not in front of others.”
“This is your private territory. Nobody can see and touch it except you. Likewise, it will not be right for you to see and touch others’ private areas.”
Such responses can be given in such situations.
How to Approach the Child Who Masturbates
First of all, families should accept the fact that this situation is part of the child’s development. Discourses and attitudes involving prohibition and anger should not be made. Children who face with blocking will either become aggressive or exaggerate their behaviors, either they will turn in on themselves or search for different ways of satisfaction. This will cause some behavioral disorders in children. Even if there is no pressure, prohibition or warning but child keeps masturbating, then the message he wants to give to parents can be like “I care about myself because you are not doing it. I love myself because you don’t love me.” At this point, families need to evaluate this message, and give the child attention and love he needs.
It should not be forgotten that masturbation becomes a problem when it manifests itself as a repetitive behavior. In this sense, families should not be worry immediately and should not overreact. But when it manifests itself as a repetitive behavior, it should be focused on why the child has different ways of satisfying, instead of focusing on why they are masturbating. And an expert assistance should be obtained when it is necessary.