Questions and Answers About Sex: What Do I Do if I Catch My Child Playing “Doctor”?

Little girl with stethoscope listening to her sister's heart

You’re so excited for your kids to have a play date with their good friends they haven’t seen in months. They come over, and you and their mother are catching up when you notice that the noise level has died down.

Children’s curiosity about their own and other’s bodies starts as young as two or three years old.

And you both know that when things get quiet, your four-, five-, and six-year-old children are usually up to something. You and your friend get out your squirt bottles, and sneak up on the children to give them a good surprise for their mischief. You quietly climb the stairs, to where the children are playing. However, instead of surprising the children, you two open the door to the playroom and find that your children are in their birthday suits, playing doctor! They look up at you, and your son proclaims, “I have a penis mommy!”

Question:
This situation is a definite shock to most parents, and it creates feelings of fear in many people, due to the extreme, life-long, and detrimental effects of sexual abuse. Although this is a shocking experience for most, it is a common and normal experience for most children. Children’s curiosity about their own and other’s bodies starts as young as two or three years old.

The National Child Traumatic Stress Network (NCTSN) suggests that attempts to “show and tell” or “play doctor” may continue until the child is ten to eleven years old, when children may start puberty and desire greater privacy.

{ MORE: Why the Sex Talk With Kids Isn't a One Time Thing }

The NCTSN suggest that these normal developmental curiosities generally happen between children that are alike in age and size. The fact it is normal does not necessarily take away the shock factor, or make it okay. So, many parents ask the question, “What do I do when I catch my child playing doctor?”

What do you think?

Questions and Answers About Sex: What Do I Do if I Catch My Child Playing “Doctor”?

Tell us what you think!

6 comments

  1. mike says:

    It’s really no big deal. I remember playing doctor, well actually it was “you show me yours and I’ll show you mine” I was 5 and we both were curious. There was no touching involved, nothing inappropriate just harmless curiosity. I have a 5 year old daughter and a 2 year old son and they bathe together regularly. I once caught my daughter touching his penis and calmly told her that it was not allowed because that is his private area and he is not to touch your privates either. That was over a year ago, and no issues since. Don’t make a big deal out of it and the curiosity will fade, if you freak out and make a scene, it will only intensify their curiosity. If you walk past a plain door you will not even think about it, if I put a big red sticker that reads “Do Not Enter, Restricted Access” You will wonder all day long what is behind that door.

  2. Marilyn says:

    I don’t see anything wrong with playing doctor.

  3. nichole says:

    i havent walked in on any doctor yet, but i babysit a boy 4 months older then my daughter, and she noticed, a little older then 2 yeard old, that he looked different when i changed his diaper. she came to the conclusion that he had a big pee pee and she has a small one. that, and adding that his mother and i let the kids bath together i am hoping im not going to have to deal with it with other little boys not so close to our family lol. (mind you, we explaned that you never touch someone elses peepee because thats called a private part, and we dont touch others private parts, so we didnt have a bunch of tots grabbin tots either. bath time with them is not really any different then pool time in summer)

  4. That’s good to know kids are innocent they don’t know any better it’s up to us parents to teach them what’s right or wrong

  5. agreed i dont how how i would take it if i saw that but i know that they dont know any better

  6. I think I would freak out seriously

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