My son just turned nine and has been becoming very curious sexually. I know this is a time when he will begin having feelings that are new to him. But 2 years ago he was caught rubbing himself against his brother in bed. My husband and I calmly explained that it was inappropriate to do that to anyone. Then we explained to his brother to always tell if anyone including family touches you that way. Then last year we caught him trying to do it again, but his brother yelled at him and he was busted. We had the talk again but this time more in depth about possible consequences for doing that to unwilling participants. I had my husband explain about feeling he may be having and masturbation. This was at just eight. I found a journal of his and in it he was writing about a girl at school that he is embarrassed to have her see his nipples in swimming lessons, which I believe to be normal, but the next page says that he thinks she wants to have sex with him, he thinks he would want to do it with her as well. Is this typical for this age in some kids? My younger boy isn’t as curious. Should I tell him I invaded his private journal and bring up the subject again? I have caught him peeking at our shows when he’s supposed to be in bed (Game of Thrones) and with the talks I know he has an idea of what it is? Should I be concerned right now or have him talk to a counselor? (age 29, from Canada)
Thanks for writing in with this interesting question. No two children are alike and as much as we try to give guidelines in psychology about what behavior is “normal” versus “abnormal,” they are still just guidelines. Yes, his interest in sex seems to be a little advanced for his age, but not dramatically so. I also think that kids are getting exposed to things much earlier these days due to TV, the Internet, social media and peer interactions.
I don’t necessarily feel that you need to let him know that you read his journal, but I would continue to have very open and direct talks with him about sexual things. With his curiosity, you want to make sure that he is getting the right information from the right people: you and your husband. At a minimum you might check out some books from your local library about child sexual development and how to talk to children about sex. It might also be helpful for him to read some age appropriate books as well and then allow him to ask questions afterward. If the concerning behaviors continue or you just start feeling like you are in over your head, then it would be a good time to seek the advice of a counselor with experience in this area.
All the best,
Dr. Holly Counts
Is It Normal for a 9-Year-Old to Think about Sex?
Holly Counts, Psy.D.
Dr. Holly Counts is a licensed Clinical Psychologist. She utilizes a mind, body and spirit approach to healing. Dr. Counts received her Bachelor’s degree in Psychology from Wright State University and her Masters and Doctoral degrees in Clinical Psychology from Nova Southeastern University. Dr. Counts has worked in a variety of settings and has specialized in trauma and abuse, relationship issues, health psychology, women’s issues, adolescence, GLBT, life transitions and grief counseling. She has specialty training in guided imagery, EMDR, EFT, hypnosis and using intuition to heal. Her current passion involves integrating holistic and alternative approaches to health and healing with psychology.
APA Reference Counts, H. (2018). Is It Normal for a 9-Year-Old to Think about Sex?. Psych Central.
Retrieved on September 16, 2019, from https://psychcentral.com/ask-the-therapist/2015/04/12/is-it-normal-for-a-9-year-old-to-think-about-sex/
Last updated: 8 May 2018 Last reviewed: By a member of our scientific advisory board on 8 May 2018 Published on Psych Central.com. All rights reserved.