Appropriate behavior for young children?

Dear Sex Educator,
I have twin daughters who are six years old. They are smart, happy, very well-adjusted children. My husband and I are very much in love and offer them a loving, supportive home. My question is this: Ever since they were very small they have “humped”. Before bed they would lay there and gyrate like they were stimulating themselves. Now every once in awhile I catch them with their Barbies’ clothes off, gyrating on their Barbies! My head tells me that this is normal behavior, but my heart can’t help but think there is something wrong. What do you think?

This is very normal behavior for girls their age. The question is how to teach them about privacy and maybe appropriate choices for things to stimulate themselves with. This is the perfect opportunity for you to talk to them about where and how it is okay to make themselves feel good, in a way that doesn’t make them feel guilty, but helps them understand that this isn’t a good thing to do in front of other people or their friends.

All children will explore what feels good. What happens for a lot of kids is that their parents get very upset and make self-stimulation something bad and taboo. With girls, many parents will tell them that they are “bad girls” when they do that, and start the process of making them feel bad about their bodies, pleasure, and masturbation. You have this great opportunity to tell them it’s okay and normal, and help them be appropriate about it. You can make the difference right now between healthy sexuality and hang-ups!

So listen to your head – it’s the right part of you this time. Your “heart” is probably being influenced by your parents’ attitudes or societal fears and attitudes.

Thanks for the great question!

The Sex Educator