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Denial seems like a quick fix for the aging child, but it only works for so long. No matter how hard we wish away the teen years, and the angst that comes with them, it’s going to happen. And let’s be honest, most parents don’t really want to know that their little girl is having big girl desires.

In turn, most adolescent girls don’t necessarily recognize sexual energy and desire as such, but it does affect the way they think and behave. Sometimes these new feelings show up as romantic interest in someone, or simply new attention to clothes and make up, or maybe a heightened focus on body image. Sometimes it surfaces as her first crush or dreams of her first kiss. In other instances, it leads to sexual experimentation without an...

First, take a deep breath. We realize that talking about your daughter’s growing sexual desire is not easy, but we commend you for even considering it.

By age 13 or 14, girls may seek touch from females and males in their peer group. By 14 or 15, many girls find older boys more mature than the boys in their peer group, and look to the older ones for attention and relationships. Sexual experimentation is very common in the early to mid teen years. Most early experimentation involves kissing and intimate touching, but teens today move quickly, and 25% have had oral sex or sexual intercourse by age 15. It is frighteningly easy for teen girls to give and receive touch that may not be healthy or fulfilling, particularly if there is a...

We can’t address touch and sexual desire without talking about the M word. Although most parents will cringe (or even stop reading right here!) at the thought of discussing masturbation with their child, most children have already discovered it to some degree.

You can ease into the conversation by mentioning that babies naturally touch their genitals at diaper changes or bath time because it is a pleasurable sensation and can even be self-soothing. As children get older, they begin to understand the notion of privacy, and they learn to control behaviors that should be kept private (like passing gas, picking their noses, and yes, masturbating).

In adolescence, your child at least deserves a conversation that acknowledges...