“Playing Doctor” – Typical and common behaviors in kids and what to do!

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!

Posted in Age Appropriate, Over-Sexualized Childhood, Parenting Tips, Playing Doctor / Experimenting, Sexual behavior | Tagged , , , | Leave a comment

Sexuality and Relationships. What’s It All Mean for Teens, Anyway?

teen-sexual-activity

Being sexual is part of who we are as human beings—we are emotional, physical, intellectual, spiritual, and sexual from the moment of birth. It drives our relationships, and creates our families. It may be hard to think of your teen as sexual. Remember when you were a teen? Your teen has probably felt the rising surge of sexual desire. Sex feels good and it’s supposed to, because our main biological drive is to reproduce. Most studies show that about half of teenagers have had sex. That’s why it’s important to get this discussion going, no matter their age.

Sexual Activity – Define it and talk about being ready for engaging in sexual activity

We can all relate to those wonderful and awkward moments. Sex in particular can be very complicated and confusing. Teens are being flooded with sexuality via media and may feel they are expected to act like they completely “get it” and are ready for anything. As adults, we have a responsibility to help teens learn to navigate through the first part of their lives, including their sexual lives, in a healthy way. Talk with your teen about what sex is, why we have sex, and how to know if they’re ready for sex so they feel comfortable and make good decisions. After all, which tab fits into which slot is the easy part – it’s the relationship your teen creates that defines how your teen’s heart will feel.

Relationships Are the Container for Sexual Activity

Discuss with your teen about how sexual activity with someone automatically goes along with having a relationship with that person. One way to explain to your teen how sex is tied in with emotion is to think of the relationship as the “container” for sex. At its core, sexuality is something that is private, and constantly getting messages about what “should” be important makes it confusing to try to figure out what truly matters to your teen in a relationship. Your teen can take care of their sexuality (and their values) by creating a strong, loving, and trusting “container” to hold the memories that will last a lifetime, including memories of the first time they have sex. Talk about the difference between being in love (feeling in love) versus being emotionally ready to have sex. As adults we know, and teens need to know; you need to be physically mature, emotionally mature, and ready to handle the consequences of your actions, including talking to your partner, and confidently getting and using birth control and condoms.

Encourage your teen to think about their values

No matter what, it’s important for your teen to give these ideas some thought so they can be really clear about who they are and what their values are as they become a healthy person and a great partner to someone—whether now or in the future. The more information they have about themselves, about being safe, about healthy relationships, and about everything that can go along with dating—their sexual values— the happier they will be with their choices.

 

This awesomeness is the parent version of the same chapter in my book for teens, Dating Smarts. You should buy it for yourself. And your kids. Get it here.

 

Posted in Parenting Tips, Relationships, Sexual Relationships, Teens | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

How to answer your kid’s questions about your sex life!

How to answer your kids questions about your sex life

They may ask about your sex life, so you need to be ready with an answer!

Do you want to know about your parent’s sex life? I didn’t think so!

Your kids don’t really want to know about your current sex life either. Which is good news – this means you can keep your sex life to yourself. And you have one less harrowing topic to dive into. It’s fine to be brief and then redirect them to another topic.

What to say if they ask about your sex life

If they ask if you have sex, you can simply say “Yes! I have sex, it’s a normal, fun and healthy part of being in a grown-up romantic relationship.” This all you need to say, especially if they are under the age of 9 or so. If they press for details, tell them that a person’s sex life is a private thing and you aren’t comfortable discussing yours with them.

If they ask about a particular sexual activity you can say, “Great question. There are all kinds of things people do that are sexual and this is part of a full sex life. What do you know about that (thing you just asked me about)?” You will notice I don’t actually answer the question. This is because they really don’t want to hear that you love a good round of oral sex.

If a teen is asking the questions about your sex life

Finally if your child is asking specific questions about your sex life and they are in the teen years or very close to them, you can say, “Thanks for asking me about this! You seem to have it on your mind. Tell me what you think about it.” Often they are really asking, “Is this okay for me to do or thing about or know about.” And asking you if you’ve done it, will help them sort it out for themselves.

Obviously, you are welcome to fill your kids in on your sex life. Just remember to keep in mind how you would have felt if your mom or dad told you all about their multiple orgasms and marathon sex sessions. Assuming you are lucky enough to experiencing one or both of these things.

Ultimately, this is a personal values thing – do what feels right to you.

 

Posted in Age Appropriate, How To Talk To Kids About Sex, Parenting Tips, What to Say | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Stop waiting for your kid to ask about sex

stop-waiting-kids-ask-about-sex
Just because your child has never asked you where babies come from it doesn’t mean they don’t need to know. It’s time to stop waiting for them to ask about sex and for you to start talking. No matter how old they are. And waiting for your kids to ask about sex makes their sex ed their responsibility. It’s not. It’s yours. Sorry.

Never asking only means they never ask. Nothing more. This isn’t a free pass to skip the talks. They still need to know. So, get over your sweet self and start conversations. You drop public service announcements in the car like little sex talk infomercials.

Not sure what they need to know at each age? Check out my online class, “The Birds & Bees from Preschool to Middle School.” You can purchase it here (it’s $10 or two trips to Starbucks – just, sayin’).

How to start a sex talk

Here’s a sex talk infomercial template:

“I was just thinking…do you know what _________means? It means…”

And here are some things to bomb them with:

  • C-sections
  • Their birth story
  • Being gay
  • Adoption
  • Vulvas and other parts
  • What sexy means
  • Fellatio
  • Douche and why Amy says that it’s sexist and that it’s not okay to call anyone this ever.😉

They may not like it, but it’s so easy on YOU that it’s worth their discomfort.

Onward!

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Self Pleasure & Your Preschooler – What To Do When it Happens

Preschool-Self-PleasureIt’s completely normal for little kids to explore their bodies and touch their privates. Self-pleasure (masturbation) is one of the ways children learn about sexuality. And guess what? It feels really, really great! Young kids touch their privates because it feels good. That’s it. It’s relaxing, self-soothing and feels lovely. It is not bad, shameful or wrong.

What To Say If Your Child Is Touching Themselves

If you freak out when you catch them it tells them there is something wrong with them, their body, and you. I’m pretty sure these are three messages you would rather your child not get, ever.

To avoid this, tell the 0 to 6 year-olds “I know it feels good to touch your privates. This is something people do in private, alone. So the rule is, you can do this in your bedroom or the bathroom.”

How To Talk To Older Kids About Masturbation

Tell the 7 to 9 set “It’s totally normal to touch your privates, and the rule is you can do that by yourself, in your bedroom or bathroom.”

Over 10? “You ever heard of masturbation? It’s when you touch your penis or clitoris because it feels good. It’s totally normal to do – just do it in private. It’s normal not to do it ,too.” Then you’ll probably  need to provide some details about what happens to boys, in particular, when they masturbate and how to handle ejaculate.

If you are anti-masturbation, you are on your own. I think this is one of the healthiest and best things a person can do for themselves when it comes to sexuality.

 

Posted in Childhood sexuality, Masturbation, Parenting Tips, Sexual behavior | Tagged , , | Leave a comment

Dating Smarts: What Every Teen Needs to Know to Date, Relate or Wait!

Dating Smarts: What Every Teen Needs to Know to Date, Relate or Wait!

Dating smarts what every teen needs to date, relate or wait book

Dating Smarts: What Every Teen Needs to Know to Date, Relate or Wait is finally available in paperback! Your teen will learn about sexuality, teen dating, love, sexual decision making, healthy relationships, and a ton of other good stuff.

Make your sex talks easier!

You can make your sex talks easier if you read it yourself first and then use what you learn to start great conversations with your kids of any age! You don’t need to have teenager to put this book to work. You can use it as fodder for age appropriate conversations about these same topics with your younger kids.

If you have a teen, get two copies so you can use one to plan your amazing sex talks and your teen can learn on their own.

Buy it now!

 

Posted in Age Appropriate, Parenting Tips, Relationships, Sexual behavior, Teens, Values | Tagged , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Kissing Games in Elementary School

Kissing Games In Elementary School

Kissing games can be a big part of elementary school play. These games are developmentally appropriate, but as with any game that involves some sexual experimentation, adults need to intervene and so kids can learn boundaries.

How to talk about kissing games with kids

I’ve provided some scripts for talking to kids about these kind of games in a way that’s kind and firm. Reassure the child that they are not in trouble when you talk to them. And stay calm.

Here’s the deal – I know you are curious about kissing and all that but its not really okay to play these kind of games until you are a teenager.

Sometimes, kids can get hurt because their bodies and hearts aren’t ready for this kind of thing.

Also, some kids will play these games with their friends and then play these games with an older kid or adult who knows it’s not okay for kids to be kissing. They get confused because they played with their friend.

It’s never okay to play these kinds of games with someone who is an adult or 3 years older than you. You can tell me if this happens. You won’t be in trouble and we’ll make sure they get some help.

For more great info on sexual behavior in children check out www.StopItNow.org.

 

Posted in Age Appropriate, Childhood sexuality, Playing Doctor / Experimenting, Sexual behavior | Tagged , , , , | Leave a comment

Please Tattle On Other Kids’ Inappropriate Social Media Posts

kids-posting-inappropriate-stuff

I went for a walk with my friend who is the parent of a 7th grade girl and my friend was dating a man who also has a 7th grade girl. Her daughter was curious about the other girl (they hadn’t met yet), so she did what they all do, and looked her up on Facebook. And what did she find? Sexualized and inappropriate selfies on this 13 year old girl’s open-to-the-public page.

My friend’s daughter told her mom about the pictures and my very thoughtful, kind and heart-in-the-right-place friend calmly chatted with her daughter about what she had seen. She was careful to be non-judgemental and concerned and kept the conversation short.

What Should You Do When You See An Inappropriate Post by a Kid?

Next, she texted the girl’s father and said, very simply, “You might want to check your daughter’s Facebook posts. I’m concerned about them.”

And he texted back, “No.”

Due to his refusal to make sure his daughter was safe, even after she talked to him about this, she broke up with him. His unwillingness to even follow up with his child was a total and understandable deal breaker.

She did the right thing. If you see a post by a child that is overtly sexualized, makes you think the child is depressed or suicidal, is violent, or otherwise causes you clear concern, tell the parents. It takes a village especially in our virtual village.

But Isn’t It Meddling To Tattle On Another Person’s Child?

Maybe it’s meddling, but I don’t really give a fuck because I would want to know if my child was posting sexual pictures on her completely-open-to-the-public Facebook page. As an adult who has a completely open personal page, I get some very lovely friend requests from men I don’t know. Lucky for me, my prefrontal cortex is fully formed, my self-esteem is intact, and I can think through whether I want to friend them, or not, regardless of all their compliments about how “lovely a person” I look.

Adolescent girls are not able to discern so well. And adolescents are notorious for being impulsive and making risky and stupid decisions. If adults (and their friends) aren’t willing to say, “Um…posting a picture of yourself in shorty PJ’s with your back arched and looking all sultry, might not be a smart idea” or my favorite, “No.”

What to say to another parent about their kids’ post

You know I love scripts, so here’s what to say, or rather, how to say it:

I feel uncomfortable talking to you about this, but I know I’d want to know if I was I the same position.

My son/daughter mentioned that your child posted a picture on (social media site) and it was (overtly sexual, violent, depressed, etc.).

I am worried about your child’s safety, so I wanted to let you know.

Then shut up and be very careful, kind and thoughtful as they process. They may get mad at you. They may be grateful. They may not give a shit.

Then you have to leave it in their hands. Which can suck. Or lead to a break up.

Posted in Girls, Parenting Tips, Social Media, Teens, Tweens | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Impulsive Teens! Ack! What’s Going On With Your Teen’s Brain?

teen-brain

As a caregiver to a teen, it may make your life a little easier if you know what’s going on with your teen’s brain. You may have noticed you and your teen driving each other crazy, your teen is more emotional, and they sometimes do things without thinking them through. You can help your teen (and yourself) through these times, including understanding “why,” tips for regaining emotional control, and even sharing what it’s like to be in charge.

A teen’s brain – It’s getting a tune up

At around 11 years, the brain begins a process of refining the prefrontal cortex. This area is responsible for impulse and emotional control, decision making, goal setting, and organization of many tasks. The amygdala—the emotional center – is the part of the brain that’s running the show. Add on a big dose of hormones, and… Ack! Eventually their hormones will even out and your teen will settle down into their young adult self. Talking with your teen about why they feel impulsive, along with strategies to regain emotional control, can help prevent them from saying or doing something they’ll regret.

The Power of “Maybe”

Your teen can say “maybe” when someone asks them to do something. Other strategies are; count to 50, do a quick pro and con list, get up and walk away, or say they need to pee to buy some time. Suggest they set up a code with a friend that means “I’m not into this.” Help your teen practice their impulse resistance skills. Remind your teen: if they say “maybe,” they must say “yes” or “no” eventually. It’s not fair to leave someone hanging. But saying “maybe” can help your teen stay true to their values, which can be very empowering.

When it comes to sexual activity “maybe” should not be a response. It will be confusing to their partner and could result in an unhappy situation. Tell them if they’re not sure, or are even a little bit uncomfortable, to say “no” and stop what they’re doing immediately. Yes, means yes.

Sexting – The Impulse Train Wreck

“Sexting” is sending text messages with pictures of their naked body, private body parts, or sexy pictures. Discuss with them that making, owning, or sending such pictures of anyone under the age of 18 is considered child pornography and is illegal.

The Power of Sharing Your View

Teen years can sometimes mean parents and kids challenge one another. Help your teen see things from your point of view. In your own words talk about how you’re feeling with them growing up, and with how wild the world is, that you may be afraid to let them go. If you are having a fight with your teen, go somewhere else to calm down, then return and resolve the discussion. This is a great way to model good relationships. Teaching your teen about relationships can help them make empowered decisions in line with their values.

 

This awesomeness is the parent version of the same chapter in my book for teens, Dating Smarts. You should buy it for yourself. And your kids. Get it here.

Posted in Brain Development, Parenting Tips, Relationships, Teens | Tagged , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Sex Positive Parenting Explained

sex-postive-parenting

What Does Sex Positive Mean?

You’ve probably heard the phrase “sex positive” and maybe you know what it means. For a long time I thought it meant, “Please, go ahead and have sex with whomever you want, whenever you want, with whatever tools-costumes-toys you want, where ever you want and I’ll pretend to be fine with that.”

That’s not really what it means – or not quite, anyway. It actually means you see sexuality as a positive, natural and healthy part of life and humanness, in all its forms. For me “sex positive” means I don’t care what you do sexually as long as it’s consenting and does not involve children, animals or “breathplay.”

 What Is Sex Positive Parenting?

Sex positive parenting is what I teach — that sexuality is a natural, normal and healthy part of childhood, adolescence and adulthood — and it’s the parents’ responsibility to teach this to their children. Sex positive mama Lea Grover, from Becoming Supermommy, and I had the pleasure of chatting with Caitlyn Becker about “Sex Positive Parenting” on Huff Post Live. Take a gander.

What Sex Positive Parenting Really Looks Like.

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