August 31, 2009

Sexual curiosity normal for most children

Many sexual behaviors are within the range of normal child development and should not be a cause for concern, a behavioral scientist in Texas said.

More than half of all children will engage in some form of sexual behavior before age 13, Dr. Nancy Kellogg of the University of Texas Health Science Center, San Antonio, said.

Many of their sexual behaviors result from curiosity or testing of personal boundaries, Kellogg and a co-author wrote in the journal Pediatrics in a story published Monday.

What parents and teachers need to watch for, however, is any conduct that is persistently intrusive, coercive ... or abusive, Kellogg said, adding neglect, domestic violence or exposure to lewd media content all are linked to sexual behavior problems.

When it comes to situations more embarrassing than dysfunctional, parents should stay calm, she advised. Parents who become angry, might escalate the child's behavior, Kellogg said.