4 and 5 year olds are notorious for their insatiable curiosity about everything.
They are curious about their bodies. Questions, observations and masturbation are all parts of this curiosity and exploration of the body. Individual beliefs and family values determine how you choose to answer these questions and observations. Our recommendation is to keep it simple. Answer directly using correct names for body parts. Answer only what has been asked unless your child prods for more information.
They are curious about bodies of the opposite sex. At this age, it happens frequently (playing doctor, imitating an aunt nursing her baby, etc.) and quite innocently. It is a good idea to discuss with your child that it is inappropriate to explore another child's body. Your child needs to know that touching another child's body in private places in not allowed. Do not shame your child if he or she is caught doing this. Simply and matter-of-factly address the issue with them. It is also a good idea to address the issue with the parent of the other child as well. Perhaps even showing a united front and discussing the issue openly with all involved. Never embarrass or punish a child for normal preschooler curiosity.
They are becoming aware of the role males and females take on and need definition. At play, children imitate behaviors they see in adults. Play is learning. Questions like "Where did I come from?" should be addressed in terms young children can understand without frightening them. Use simple terms and a positive attitude. Be sure to understand what your child is asking and answer appropriately. I remember a story where a child asked this question and the parent explained the physical process. The child then said, "Well, Johnny is from Chicago."
They are exploring the outside world and becoming more aware of other families and the differences in family life. Friends and family members "eat over" and "sleep over" at another home. Questions pertaining to traditions, rules, behaviors and lifestyles will certainly arise. These experiences are helping your child to grow. The exposure to other families is a wonderful experience for shaping her expanding world.
They want to know "why"? To a preschooler, you are a font of knowledge and they are tapping in. Not only are they absorbing the information you give them, but they are also able to keep your attention as long as you are answering the constant barrage of questions.
This is a time in the life of children where these experiences shape their views of the world and all that is in it. Encourage children to try something new, explore and learn.
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Curiosity and Exploration in Preschoolers