Dr. Jennifer W. Shewmaker

Parent, Teacher, Author

Sexual Self-Efficacy: How do we build it?

Sexual self-efficacy is incredibly important for sexual health. So, how do we build sexual self-efficacy? Let’s think about some specific things that caring adults can do to help children build sexual self-efficacy in different age groups.

Toddlers & Preschoolers

  • Call body parts by proper names
  • Avoid shaming self touch
  • Begin to talk about “private parts” that are their own. Nobody but them or a trusted adult (parent, doctor, etc.) should touch.
  • Talk about good touch and bad touch and how to respond if anyone touches them in a way that makes them uncomfortable.

At a young age you want to begin talking with children about their own rights to say what happens with their bodies. One great activity that I suggest for young children is the “It’s just a hug” activity.

Ask the child in your life:

  • Do you always want to be hugged?
  • How does it feel if someone hugs you when you don’t want to hug?
  • When you want to hug a friend and they don’t want to hug, how do they feel if you hug them?
  • What might you do instead of forcing a hug?
  • What if someone wants to hug you, but you don’t want to hug them, what might you do? For example, are you willing to give a handshake? What about a smile if you don’t want any physical affection?

The idea is to get the child thinking about consent, what it means to say yes to physical affection, and what it means to say no. You want to give the child the chance to think about how to respond when someone wants to give them affection that they don’t want, and also how to ask others for consent for physical affection. Teaching children what it means to consent to physical affection, how to say yes, how to say no, and how to ask for consent, all of these are vitally important messages for all children.  This is a first step in building strong sexual self-efficacy.



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This entry was posted on November 20, 2015 by in Acting, Series, Sexual self efficacy and tagged , , , .
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