Genital play is a common early childhood behavior of genital exploration distinct from autoerotic stimulation. This behavior is part of a normative period of children exploring all of their bodies, and some psychologists have even suggested genital play is a sign of healthy psychosexual development. Though genital play may rarely evolve directly into masturbation, the behavior is sometimes misinterpreted directly as masturbation by adults. Genital play usually manifests in boys between six-seven months of age; and in girls at ten-eleven months. It may take place in groups, and sometimes utilizing inanimate objects such as dolls. It may continue, most often in boys, through the fifth year. There is then most commonly a sexual latency period between genital play and the onset of typically adolescent behaviors such as masturbation.
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