Learning that a child has acted out sexually can be extremely stressful for anyone. Understanding how to respond to the child’s behavior can be difficult. Families frequently lack information and adequate support to deal with the events and often react with shock. Some parents and caregivers struggle with believing the behaviors have occurred or do not understand the seriousness of the issue. They may experience divided loyalties or may not understand how to meet the needs of all children involved.

Some things you can do:

Respond in a calm or neutral way
If behavior is in progress, then stop it.
Don’t give catastrophizing or demonizing messages
Provide the following as needed:
  • Information about social rules of behavior and privacy/modesty
  • Information about friendships and relationships with others.
  • Information about respecting their own bodies
  • Accurate education about names and functions of all sex/body parts
  • Developmentally appropriate sex education