Sexual Behaviors Associated with Stages of Development

Post your answers to the following: Many parents do not have a background in childhood development and may not recognize that there are normal childhood sexual behaviors. In 200 to 300 words, review sexual behaviors associated with the stages of childhood development. Include in your discussion examples of behavior related to the following stages of development: infancy, early childhood, preadolescence, and adolescence.

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Adolescent, childhood and even infant sexual behavior are both normal and common in most situations. For instance, most male infants have erections and some female infants experience vaginal lubrication within the first few weeks of life (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005). Furthermore, pelvic thrusting and even orgasm without ejaculation have been reported in infants during the second half of their first year of life. Also, masturbation is normal and can start between 6 and 12 months; however, masturbation to orgasm is rare until the age of 2.

Likewise, children usually do not engage in genital play until about that age. Between the ages of 3 and 8, genital play and masturbation may increase. This is not only normal but expected. At this age, children might engage in games such as “doctor” in order to explore cross-gender anatomy. Also at this age kissing becomes the primary means of showing affection. Preadolescence, age 9 to 13, brings with it the beginning of puberty and with its primary and secondary-sex characteristic changes. According to one study (Rathus, Nevid, & Fichner-Rathus, 2005) 45% of boys and 15% of girls masturbate by the age of 13. Mutual display of genitals and even same-sex encounters are common during this stage of development. Same-sex encounters at this level of development do not predispose homosexuality. In fact, same-sex encounters may be more common than heterosexual encounters during this stage of human maturity.

Lastly, adolescents bring with it an increased amount of petting, in the form of kissing (97%), and an increase in the occurrence of masturbation, 46% for males and 24% for females. During this stage of development fertility for both males and females is attained and therefore impregnation becomes possible. Females develop breasts, begin their menstrual cycle, and develop widened and rounded hips. Males, on the other hand, develop a larger penis and scrotum, their voice deepens, and erections become frequent. In conclusion, sexual behavior at any stage of human development is normal and common in most cases and should be looked at with an open mind and an understanding heart.

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Rathus, S.A., Nevid, J.S., and Fichner-Rathus, L. (2005). Human sexuality in a world of diversity. (6th ed.) Boston, MA: Allyn and Bacon.

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