Sexual Development & Behavior in Children and Youth
Sexual development and behavior follows a developmental path and is influenced by children’s diverse environments and experiences. This course will guide your understanding of factors that shape sexual development, how to build a program that promotes healthy sexual development in children and youth, and developmentally appropriate responses to all types of sexual behavior, including sexual behavior challenges or problematic sexual behavior.
An Introduction for Program Staff
To promote growth and well-being across all areas of development, it’s necessary to have knowledge on the wide range of ways children and youth mature. This course will inform you about attitudes and beliefs on sexual development, provide information on typical sexual development and behavior, and give guidance on how to support children, families, and staff who encounter issues with sexual behavior by children. This lesson introduces you to key terms and provides opportunities to reflect on how experience and culture affect how we think about sexual development and behavior in children and youth.
Understanding Normative Sexual Development & Behavior
In order to understand child and youth sexual behavior challenges (cautionary and problematic), you must first have foundational knowledge of normative sexual development and behavior. In this lesson you will review common examples of normative sexual behavior and learn how to respond in the moment and after the fact. Also, you will read suggestions for ways programs can promote healthy sexual development and prevent sexual behavior challenges.
Preventing Sexual Behavior Challenges
In this lesson we will expand on four important prevention strategies: safe, unsafe, and unwanted touch; permission to touch; public versus private; and active supervision. Effectively using these strategies in your work with children and youth will promote healthy sexual development and prevent most sexual behavior challenges.
Sexual Behavior Challenges
In this lesson, you will learn about sexual behavior challenges and have the opportunity to think about what children may be trying to communicate when they engage in these behaviors. You will also learn about risk factors that make children and youth more vulnerable to having sexual behavior challenges. Finally, you will reflect on the language we use to describe children with sexual behavior challenges and how word choice affects a child’s sense of self, a child's behaviors, and the supports a child receives.
Responding to Sexual Behavior Challenges
In this lesson, you will walk through a case study of a sexual behavior challenge in a child care program. You will read a detailed account of how staff members respond, collaborate, and communicate so all involved children, staff, and families have the necessary information needed to support the individuals involved and provide high-quality care.
Supporting Families Through Sexual Behavior Challenges
In this lesson, you will learn how to navigate conversations with families about their children’s sexual development and behavior. You will put yourself in the shoes of families and consider how your communication can enhance families’ understanding of sexual development and support them if their child or youth experiences sexual behavior challenges. You will also learn effective communication strategies, the types of statements to avoid, and how to refer families to community supports.
Interventions for Children and Youth With Sexual Behavior Challenges
In this lesson, you will learn about risk factors that can lead to sexual behavior challenges. You will also learn about potential intervention options for children and youth who experience sexual behavior challenges. Finally, you will review best practices for child care professionals to support children and youth who receive intervention for sexual behavior challenges.
Coaching and Creating Programs that Support Sexual Development
As a Training & Curriculum Specialist or Coach , you are a leader in your program community, and staff and families will turn to you for guidance when they have questions about sexual development and behavior. You should have enough knowledge to provide accurate information, coach others in nonjudgmental and culturally responsive ways, and model best practice. Traditionally, children’s sexual development and behavior has received little attention in educator or child-development training. In this lesson, you will learn how to respond to diverse staff beliefs, support staff in responding to sexual behaviors, and develop ways to work in multidisciplinary teams. This lesson also provides suggestions for ways to provide the program professional development on sexual development and behavior.
Programs That Support Healthy Sexual Development and Behaviors
In this lesson, you will learn how to create programs that support healthy sexual development and safe environments for all children. As a program administratorPUBLICor director, you can help establish a program culture where staff feel safe asking questions about sexual development and behaviors in children and youth. As a program leader, it is equally important to be proactive to prevent sexual behavior challenges, ensure relevant information is provided to families and staff, and prepare to help families and staff respond when children display or experience sexual behavior challenges. In this lesson you will also learn how to lead others in nonjudgmental and culturally responsive ways, and work collaboratively with staff, families, and multidisciplinary teams when challenges arise.