For many people, the issue of child sexuality remains in the taboo zone, just like in the case of adults. However, when it comes to the youngest, the topic seems to be even more delicate. Can you talk about sexuality at all in the case of minors? Should issues regarding sexual orientation in children be considered in any way? Is there anything that should arouse parents’ anxiety and make them consult a child sexologist?
First of all, despite the stereotype, the issue of sex should not be considered solely in terms of physical acts, passion and eroticism. Sex means sex and everything related to it – issues of understanding gender, identity, behavior, doubts – are called sexuality. Hence, there is nothing strange in discussions about sexual orientation in children, which does not only mean the act of love itself, but also self-awareness and emotional state both towards other people and towards themselves.
Sexual orientation is not a matter of choice. It is deeply rooted in consciousness, forms already at the prenatal stage, and is conditioned by environmental, biological and cognitive factors. What can affect it – but not as a shaping factor, but rather a trigger – is a series of events and behaviors. They are often the result of culture and stereotypes, which is especially noticeable in the case of children.
Many parents use messages that affect the perception of sexuality in children who are several years old. Very often the boy and girl are commented by saying that they form “a nice pair” or concerns are expressed when the boy clearly shuns girls or vice versa. The child, hearing such comments, absolutely does not consider them sexually. And these comments do not affect his sexual identity, which is already formed.
However, it doesn’t mean, that the child cannot hear these comments, assimilate or interpret them. This can lead to feelings of being lost, inability to adapt your gender identity to expectations or disorders in its expression. In a word – a pattern is imposed on the child: “you can’t play only with boys”, “you’ll see, someday you’ll want to play with boys”. This undermines his confidence and can make him feel insecure about his sexuality in the future, which cannot be changed at the same time. Common games within one sex will not affect the long-established gender identity.
So, when a boy says that “girls are not cool” or a girl plays only with her girlfriends, does this require a visit to a child sexologist? Definitely not.
When is it recommended to go to a child sexologist?
Sexual orientation is a constant feature, regardless of whether it concerns a child or an adult. In fact, it is very difficult to determine when this issue will require consultation with a child sexologist. What should parents pay attention to?
- The child cannot admit his sexual identity to himself.
- He feels anxiety about his emotions, he feels inadequate to his condition.
- His emotions evoke shame, fear and self-resentment.
- He meets ostracism as a result of his sexual orientation and cannot cope with it.
Sexual orientation is innate, formed already in utero. No manipulations, requests, threats or treatment will result in changing it. On the contrary, it can only cause problems with the self-esteem and will increase the feeling of alienation. From the very beginning, the child should be thought values that will help to ensure, in a way, the proper condition of his sexuality.
First of all – you should satisfy children’s curiosity related to nudity and getting to know your own body through conversation and real (but age-appropriate) facts about sexuality. One should not make taboos of this topic, show shame, and above all, stigmatize such behaviors as masturbation (in many cases it is just a stage of development) or stereotypically approach certain types of behavior (like commenting on boy playing with a girl, seeing it as a chance for a future “relationship”). Children are free from such thinking and they should not be thaught that kind, not always proper, of perception of the world.
Of course, if, despite the efforts of parents and their correct approach – full of empathy and willingness to cooperate with the child – it can be seen that the child does not cope with his own sexual orientation or issues of sexuality at all, it will be best to visit a specialist. A child sexologist can help both the child and parents in the right approach to the topic.
The right approach to child sexuality
How parents approach their own and child sexuality is of great importance for how the child will perceive his own sexuality and how his identity will develop. First of all, no sexual orientation should be associated with exclusion, harassment, criticism or any form of hostility.
A child may be homosexual, and this is not the reason why it should be stigmatized in any way. Regardless of your sexual identity, everyone deserves the right support – respect, empathy, understanding, tolerance and, most importantly, the opportunity to be yourself. If the child has that kind of support, it will be easier for him to understand his own emotions and feelings. It is also worth accepting his willingness to visit a child sexologist if he thinks he needs that kind of help. Sexual orientation in children can make itself felt at different stages and everyone requires an extremely gentle, empathic approach.