Helping Children Develop Healthy Sexual Behavior and Attitudes (page 3)

By — NYU Child Study Center
Updated on Apr 21, 2014

Putting it all together

Parents are their children's role models, and they learn respect, trust, and emotional commitment within the family. Parents can and should be the most influential source in their children's lives in regard to how they behave sexually and socially. Unfortunately, too often it's the media and peers that are the influential sources. Think about all the different sexual messages children are exposed to on a daily basis - nearly naked pictures in magazines, sexual images on the internet or in a movie, sex talk among friends and peers, observing how peer and adults express their sexuality, the sexy billboard on the side of a building. Sexual messages are everywhere and our children are exposed to them on a daily basis. Now picture your child sitting at a table. For every sexual message he or she is exposed to, a one-by-one inch block is placed end to end on the table in front of him or her until the blocks reach the end of the table. A second row of blocks is then started on top of the first, and then a third row on top of the second, and so on until a wall is created. With every exposure to a sexual message the wall grows higher and higher. By the time children reach puberty the wall will extend incredibly high. Parents need to help their children understand and make sense of this wall.

Parents should provide a solid foundation of information and values regarding sexual behavior and attitudes. Children will then be better equipped for managing the constant stream of unsolicited content to which they are exposed from media and peers.

Although you can't always monitor what your kids will see, hear and do, you can take proactive steps by speaking and communicating with them on a regular basis. How do we do this? Look your children in the eyes, tell them that you love them, open your mouth and begin talking.

About the Author

Fred Kaeser, Ed.D. is the Director of Health Services for Community School District Two, NYC. Dr. Kaeser received his doctoral degree in Human Sexuality Studies from New York University and has taught sex education for over twenty years.

References and Related Books

Sexualized children Gil, E. & Cavanaugh-Johnson, T. (1993) Launch Press Rockville, MD

From diapers to dating: A parent's guide to raising sexually healthy children Haffner, D. (1999) Newmarket Press New York, NY

Sexual behaviors of young children that occur in schools Kaeser, F., DiSalvo, C., & Moglia, R. (2000) Journal of Sex Education and Therapy, 25, (4), 277-285

AboutOurKids Related Articles

It's Never Too Early or Too Late to Talk With Your Kids About Sex

Towards a Better Understanding of Children's Sexual Behavior

About the NYU Child Study Center

The New York University Child Study Center is dedicated to increasing the awareness of child and adolescent psychiatric disorders and improving the research necessary to advance the prevention, identification, and treatment of these disorders on a national scale. The Center offers expert psychiatric services for children, adolescents, young adults, and families with emphasis on early diagnosis and intervention. The Center's mission is to bridge the gap between science and practice, integrating the finest research with patient care and state-of-the-art training utilizing the resources of the New York University School of Medicine. The Child Study Center was founded in 1997 and established as the Department of Child and Adolescent Psychiatry within the NYU School of Medicine in 2006. For more information, please call us at (212) 263-6622 or visit us at

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