Has your child got a harmful sexualised behaviour? Does it affect your day to day life? Has it affected others? Here is some useful information you will find helpful.


What is Sexualised Behaviour?

Sexual development is progressive throughout the lifetime and is integral to overall development of individual identity. This development is influenced by people’s experiences and social, emotional, physical, cultural, economic and political factors. It is natural for people to express their sexuality through their behaviour and this expression can take many forms. It may be expressed in the language they use, the touch they engage in, such as exploring their own body or someone else’s body, through sexual activity or in games and other interactions.

Adults have a responsibility to provide support and protection for children and adolescents if they display sexual behaviours that increase their own vulnerability and/or cause harm to another person.

Children or adolescents who have been abused, who have a disability, or have experienced other disruptions to their development or socialisation may be at an increased risk of exposure to, or the development of, inappropriate sexual behaviours.

Sexual Play:

  • Is exploratory & spontaneous.
  • Occurs intermittently and by mutual consent.
  • Occurs with children of similar age, size or development level.
  • Is not associated with high levels of fear, anger or anxiety.
  • Decreases when told my caregivers to stop.
  • Can be controlled by increased supervision.

The normal and natural feelings that children experience regarding sexual play are that it is about curiosity; it is light hearted and spontaneous and there may be some embarrassment.

Problem Sexualised Behaviour:

Children with problem sexual behaviours are children 12-years and under who demonstrate developmentally inappropriate behaviour or aggressive sexual behaviours such as;

  • Frequent, repeated behaviour such as compulsive masturbation.
  • Behaviour which often occurs between children who do not know each other well.
  • Behaviour which occurs with high frequency and interferes with normal childhood activities.
  • Behaviour which occurs between children of different ages, sizes and developmental levels.
  • Aggressive behaviour often using force or coercion.
  • The behaviour does not decrease once the child is told to stop the behaviour.
  • The behaviour cause harm to the child or others.

The feelings children experience in regard to engaging in problem sexualised behaviour and/or experiencing another child’s problem sexualised behaviour can range from being of concern to requiring professional help for the children involved. These include but are not limited to:

  • Anxiety
  • Withdrawal
  • Fear
  • Shame
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  • Anger
  • Rage
  • Self-blame
  • Disgust

Who Does It Effect?

Sexualised behaviours can affect children of all genders, religion and ethnicity. Sexualised behaviour could have an effect on the children’s parents or carers as they may not know what to do or if it is sexualised behaviour. It is more common in children aged between 0-4 and from kindergarten to fourth grade. Here are some signs to look out for if your child is between this age range;

 Signs of sexualised behaviour in 0-4 year olds;


Touches/rubs own genitals when nappies are being changed; when going to sleep, when tense, excited or afraid. Continues to touch/rub genitals in public after being told many times not to do this. Touches/rubs self in public or in private to the exclusion of normal childhood activities.
Asks about genitals, breasts, intercourse, and babies. Keeps asking people even after parent has answered questions at age appropriate level. Asks strangers after parent has answered. Sexual knowledge too great for age.
Likes to be nude. May show others his/her genitals. Wants to be nude in public after the parent says “No” Refuses to put on clothes. Secretly shows self in public after many scoldings.
Interested in own faeces. Smears faeces on walls or floor more than one time. Repeatedly smears or plays with faeces after scolding.
Plays doctor inspecting others’ bodies. Frequently plays doctor after being told “No” Forces child to play doctor, to take off clothes.
Puts something in the genitals or rectum of self and other for curiosity or exploration. Puts something in genitals or rectum of self or other after being told “No” Any coercion, force, pain in putting something in genitals or rectum of self or another child.
Plays house, acts out roles of mummy and daddy. Humping other children with clothes on. Simulated or real intercourse with clothes, oral sex.


 Signs of sexualised behaviours in kindergarten – 4th grade ages;


Asks about the genitals, breasts, intercourse, and babies. Shows fear or anxiety about sexual topics. Endless questions about sex. Sexual knowledge far too great for age.
Interested in watching/peeking at people doing bathroom functions. Keeps getting caught watching/peeking at others doing bathroom functions. Refuses to leave people alone in the bathroom.
Interest in urination and defecation. Plays with faeces. Purposefully urinates outside of toilet bowl. Repeatedly plays with or smears faeces. Purposefully urinated on furniture.
Touches/rubs own genitals when going to sleep, when tense, excited or afraid. Continues to touch/rub genitals in public place after being told “No”. Masturbation on furniture or with   objects. Touches/rubs self in private to the exclusion of normal childhood activities. Masturbates on people.
Kisses familiar adults and children. Allows kisses by familiar adults and children. French kissing. Talks in sexualised manner with others. Fearful of hugs/kisses by adults. Gets upset with public displays of affection. Overly familiar with strangers. Talks/acts in a sexualised manner with unknown adults. Physical contact with adult causes extreme agitation to child or adult.
Talks about sex with friends. Talks about have a girl/boyfriend Sex talk gets child in trouble. Romanticises all relationships. Talks about sex and sexual acts habitually. Repeatedly in trouble with regard to sexual behaviour.
Plays games with same-aged children related to sex and sexuality. Wants to play games with much younger/older children related to sex and sexuality.

Forces others to play sexual games, or a group forces a child/children to play.


Sexualised behaviour can also happen to children aged up to 16 but is less common than it is in their earlier years.

Examples of People Who have or Experienced Sexualised Behaviours

“Boy left home because of his sexualised behaviours”Anonymous – Irish Times.



“Sexualised behaviour normal? Kids at risk”Natasha Bita – The Australian.

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How Can it be Treated?

The AOC can help you if you are still feeling the effects. We are HCPC (Health & Care Professions Council) registered and also members of BACP (The British Association of Dramatherapists). We have a team of highly skilled, professional counsellors and associate therapists to help you through with the use of creative art therapies.

Creative art therapies involve using arts in a therapeutic environment with a trained therapist. You do not need to have any artistic skill or previous experience of dance, drama, music or visual art to find arts therapies helpful. The aim isn’t to produce a great work of art, but to use what you create to understand yourself better. In arts therapy, your therapist helps you to create something — such as a piece of music, a drawing, a play or a dance routine — as a way of expressing your feelings, often without using words.

Creative art therapies can be offered in group sessions, one-to-one or with family therapy depending on your own preference. We will match you to our best suited therapist/counsellor to help you with any of your issues. All our counselling is strictly confidential and nothing said in the therapy space will leave the room.

There are many different modalities in which creative arts can be offered to you ranging from the following;

Offers profound reflection on who we are and the roles we play. These art forms are also centrally concerned with how people change people, for better or worse, and the sort of connections they make with each other, e.g. superficial, conflictual, brutal, deadened or deeply enriching. Drama and puppetry can also offer vital insights into ‘situation’: how past situations are still colouring those in the present. Working with puppets is ideal for circumventing a reluctance to speak about feelings.

Sculpture offers a person the power to speak through touch. Its power lies more in the emotional resonance of substance. Sculpture invites a sensual engagement with the world. Clay expresses qualities and forms of feeling, directly, plainly, free of the clutter of any associations of the everyday.

Literal words can misrepresent, underplay, hide rather than reveal and frequently offering only approximations to any recalled experience. In poetry as a multi-sensorial form, ‘amplifies the music of what happens’ (Seamus Heaney). ‘A poetic basis of mind’ (Hillman) can lead to a far more profound experience of life.

Clients choose from a whole world of miniature people, animals and buildings and arrange them in the controlled space of the ‘theatre of the sandbox’. This theatre then offers a profound overview of important life issues. Once feelings are organised and externalised in sandplay, they can be contemplated from a distance, and then assimilated.

The dynamic forms in music are recognisable as vital forms of felt life: the rises and falls, the surges and flooding’s, the tensions and intensities, the changes in tempo, the dissonances, harmonies and resolutions. We know these forms intimately in our emotional experiencing. Music can convey the full qualitative and energetic aspects of an important relationship, atmosphere crucial event, or ongoing situation.

Forms encapture the complex inter-relations between time, weight, space, flow. We know these forms intimately in our emotional experiencing, so much so that both movement and still pose can provoke all manner of resonance. It is also possible to work with what the body is already communicating symbolically, whether through posture, gesture and gait, or through illness and injury. Movement is integral to the very process of change.



If you would like to receive counselling from The AOC please fill out on of our online referral forms and send to support@theaoc.org.uk You will have a choice of 3 different types of referral forms;

  1. For individuals or couples
  2. Family referral form
  3. Group referral form

Please select the referral form most suited to you i.e. if you would like group therapy, fill out the group referral form.

Simply click the following link to find out more information and complete one of our referral forms:


We provide our clients with high-quality, evidence based expertise in the form of personal therapy and counselling. To help anyone suffering with any type of eating disorder.

Here is an example of a creative art therapy from The AOC in more detail;


Dramatherapy is a form of psychological therapy/psychotherapy in which all of the  performance arts are utilised within the therapeutic relationship. Dramatherapy addresses a wide range of personal and emotional difficulties. Clients who are referred to a dramatherapist do not need to have previous experience or skill in acting, theatre or drama. Dramatherapists are trained to enable clients to find the most suitable medium for them to engage in group or individual therapy to address and resolve, or make troubling issues more bearable.Dramatherapists work in a wide variety of settings with people of all ages:

  • in schools
  • in mental health
  • in general health and social care settings
  • in prisons
  • in hospices
  • in the voluntary sector
  • in private practice

Dramatherapists are both artists and clinicians and draw on their trainings in theatre, drama and therapy to create methods to engage clients in effecting psychological, emotional and social changes.  The therapy gives equal validity to body and mind within the dramatic context; stories, myths, play-texts, puppetry, masks and improvisation are examples of the range of artistic interventions a dramatherapist may employ.  These will enable the client to explore difficult and painful life experiences through a creative-expressive approach. Dramatherapists are vtrained in both psychological and arts-specific assessment and evaluation techniques. They are committed to generating practice-based evidence and deliver sound evidence-based practice.

The British Association of Dramatherapists (BADth)

We can also offer our clients integrative counselling;

Integrative Counselling

Integrative therapy, or integrative counselling is a combined approach to psychotherapy that brings together different elements of specific therapies. Integrative therapists take the view that there is no single approach that can treat each client in all situations. Each person needs to be considered as a whole and counselling techniques must be tailored to their individual needs and personal circumstances. 

Integrative counselling maintains the idea that there are many ways in which human psychology can be explored and understood – no one theory holds the answer. All theories are considered to have value, even if their foundational principles contradict each other – hence the need to integrate them. 

The integrative approach also refers to the infusion of a person’s personality and needs – integrating the affective, behavioural, cognitive, and physiological systems within one person, as well as addressing social and spiritual aspects. Essentially, integrative counsellors are not only concerned with what works, but why it works – tailoring therapy to their clients and not the client to the therapy.

Top Health Tips

  1. Increase the child’s understanding of their unhealthy associations and beliefs regarding sex and sexuality – For example, sex equals secrecy; sex equals dirtiness, filth, shame, guilt; sex equals love and caring; sex is “nasty”; where and how to get nurturing.
  2. Have a plan to address behaviours when it happens – Don’t ignore, don’t punish, and don’t shame. Address it calmly, assertively and immediately. Help the child to act appropriately.
  3. Teach children specific skills to reduce anxiety or arousal – A time out, to repeat a phrase in his/her head, to engage in physical activity other than sex, or to draw or write out his feelings. Must be given the tools to channel anxiety, frustration, anger or fear into appropriate, non-abusive activities.
  4. No sharing of bedrooms – If children must share bedrooms, get permission from their therapist (if they have one) and make sure the child who is sharing the bedroom is strong and assertive enough not be a victim or a child who does not have a history of sexual abuse.
  5. Talk to the child – Without expressing anger, and inquire about where the child learned the behaviour
  6. Do not punish, hit, or whoop the child – The child may not have known what he/she was doing was wrong. This would only result in an intense level of shame, which will carry over for years.
  7. Contact us – The AOC can help your overcome and put a stop to the sexual abuse you may be experiencing/experienced. Call or email us: 01384 211 169 / support@theaoc.org.uk