Talking to your children about touching themselves

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Babies and nappy
Experts stress that how we respond to our children when they're young will determine whether or not they feel able to talk to us about sex and body parts later. Dr Polly Carmichael, consultant clinical psychologist at Great Ormond Street Hospital, believes we shouldn't make a big deal of these matters.

'Let children know that talking about genitals is fine, they're just another part of the body. And reassure them that everyone is different, kids can get very anxious about this,' she says. Using pet names for genitals can be helpful, although experts recommend we also teach toddlers the correct ones.'

Should you ever worry?

So as parents we should lighten up about kids and genitals. But is there ever a time when a child's fascination with them could be a cause for concern?

'If a little one is masturbating constantly, there might be something going on in his life that's causing him anxiety,' says Polly Carmichael. 'If a youngster seems overly sexualised, if he's trying to copy adult sexual acts or using adult language, he may have been exposed to something inappropriate. If you're worried, keep an eye on him or talk to your GP or health visitor.'

Continued below...

Such cases, however, are the exception. 99 times out of a 100, young children fiddling with their genitals is entirely normal and as they get older, most do it less or in private.

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