Sexual Behaviors - Preschool

Understanding What is Normal & When to Be Concerned


Green Light: Natural & Expected


  • Touches or rubs own genitals when diaper changed, going to sleep, tense, excited or afraid
  • Touches private parts of "familiar adults and children
  • Takes advantage of opportunity to look at nude people
  • Asks about genitals, breasts, intercourse, and babies
  • Erections, likes to be nude, shows others their genitals
  • Interested in watching others go to the bathroom
  • Uses "dirty" words for bathroom and sexual functions
  • Interested in own feces
  • Plays doctor, inspecting the bodies of others
  • Puts something in genitals or rectum one time out of curiosity or exploration
  • Plays house in the roles of mommy and daddy

Yellow Light: Of Concern


  • Continues to rub/touch genitals in public after being told not to
  • Continuous questions about genital differences, sexual behaviors, or body parts after all questions have been answered
  • Touches private parts of adults not in the family, unknown child, or familiar people after being told "no," asked to be touched himself
  • Stares at nude people after already having seen many people nude
  • Continuous erections
  • Wants to be nude in public after being told no consistently and repeatedly
  • Continues to use dirty words after being told not to
  • Smears feces on wall or floor more than one time
  • Continues to play doctor even after being told not to
  • Puts something in own or others genitals or rectum after being told not to
  • Humping other children with no clothes on

Red Light: Seek Professional Help


  • Touches/rubs self to the exclusion of normal childhood activities, hurts own genitals by touching or rubbing, wants to masturbate to nude pictures or displays them
  • Plays male or female roles in an angry, sad, or aggressive manner, hates own/other sex
  • Sneakily touches adults. Makes others allow their touching, demands that others touch them, demands to see others' privates
  • Asks people to take of their clothes, tries to forcibly undress people
  • Asks unfamiliar people sexual questions, sexual knowledge exceeds age appropriateness
  • Painful erections
  • Aggressive or fearful in demand for privacy
  • Refuses to put on clothes, secretly shows self in public despite scolding
  • Refuses to leave people alone in bathroom
  • Displays fear or anger about birth, babies, or intercourse
  • Continues to use dirty words despite scolding, talks about sex or sex acts habitually
  • Repeatedly plays in feces after scolding
  • Forces other child to play doctor, to take off clothes, forces others to play sexual games
  • Any coercion, force, pain, in putting something in genitals or rectum of self of other child
  • Simulated or real intercourse without clothes on, oral sex