When and how to talk to your kid about sex
The topic of sex can be embarrassing enough to talk about with children. Some parents prefer to avoid it, thinking that it will be better for kids to discover everything by themselves. However, sex education is a very serious and essential part of raising a child.
In many schools worldwide, a new subject has been introduced into the curriculum that gives pupils a basic understanding of where the children come from and why it is essential to use contraception. Here are some tips and an age-by-age guide to help you get rid of the awkwardness of discussing this topic and answer all the child’s questions.
- To start with, the first and the most important tip is to be open and real about this sensitive topic as there’s nothing to be ashamed of or to lie about. Some people believe that talking about sex at home means parenting without values: condoning or giving permission to have sex. The real message of sex education is to help our children avoid any problems and difficulties that have to do with sex on their way to becoming adults.
- What’s more, give examples both from your own experience and from other sources. But evade judgments as they can only make your child more scared of asking these questions and discussing different situations with you. Try to explain why this or that story ended in a specific way. Ask for your child’s opinion on it to see what his actions would be in that case.
- Don’t focus on bad examples only! You have to set positive expectations so that your kids will be sure that they deserve to be loved and treated nicely in relationships. Talking about the good sides of sex will help them set positive standards and understand which sexual experience is good and not. Explain to them how meaningful and pleasant sex with a partner you love is.
Unfortunately, parents can discredit love by explaining the dangers of sex and its consequences. You have to normalize romantic attachments in your child’s life even if your opinion on it is different.
Besides, don’t forget that everything happens at the right time and in the right place. Don’t move on very fast. Focus on the age range when it comes to sex. Sometimes it can be too much to hear at once.
Speaking about the age range, it is really helpful as you know what questions to expect from your child and how to explain the answers better.
How to talk to children about sex when they’re from 3 to 6 years old
Talking about genitals
Firstly, you have to tell your children the difference between men and women. Explain it properly so that it will be easier for them to understand. Some specialists say that it is better to avoid connecting sexual biology to gender. Still, it is up to you in this case. Today a person’s gender is not always associated with his genitals. So you have to be very careful with teaching your child this basic knowledge as the world is different from when we were teenagers.
Also, kids need to learn the correct terms for their genitals. Don’t feel embarrassed to say “penis” or “vagina”, as it should be completely normal for you and your child as well.
From about three years old, children begin to study their bodies and find out what’s what. You have to help them to understand when and where it is appropriate to explore their bodies. It is essential to do so, or else they will touch their genitals in front of others, which might be something you don’t want to happen. Please be very gentle so that your child will not feel like he’s doing something disgraceful. Don’t be strict or assertive because already at this age, insecurities can be laid in children.
Pay attention to say that other people should never ask to or try to touch their genitals. Help them to understand that it is an inappropriate action. You need to build a trusting relationship with your children so that they can trust you and tell, even if they kept such a situation a secret.
Where do babies come from
At this age, children are usually very curious about how babies are made. Many authors write books, which help parents to answer these questions right. Most of them recommend telling children right away that there are a lot of ways. Do not stick to exclusively conceiving a child through a male-female relationship because these days, there are other possibilities.
If children are interested in the details, don’t be scared to tell them. Cory Silverberg, the author of the famous book “What makes a Baby”, recommends answering this question in this way, “Two grown-ups get their bodies together and share the sperm and the egg to make a child like you, or sometimes they get the sperm or the egg from someone else.” Don’t lie to your child that he/she came from the sky or a shop. It will be harder for him/her to believe something else later. Besides, be ready to answer these questions and don’t avoid these important topics.
What’s more, you can explain the process of making a baby by telling their own birth story. It will be interesting to them and easier to understand a certain way of making one. Remember to mention that there are other opportunities to make a family.
Speaking about making a family, you have to explicate that families and relationships can be made in many ways. Don’t stick to telling only about nuclear, heterosexual families. There are also non-traditional ones. Be open about it, give examples that can show that this does not affect whether a person raised in such a family is good or not.
How to talk to children about sex when they’re 7 to 10 years old
At this age, it is essential to talk about safety online. Some parents try their best to minimize the amount of time their children spend on the phone or tablet, but it is better to raise this topic now. It is worth establishing the rules in which they should not communicate with strangers or share personal photos. Try to do this unobtrusively so that the child does not do the opposite.
It is better to use kid mode to browse the web, so your child doesn’t stumble upon scams or potentially inappropriate content. This will help keep your child safe from unwanted or dangerous information.
This is a good time to start talking about sexual assault and abuse so kids can protect themselves. It is not necessary to go into details, be guided by whether your child is ready to perceive more information on this topic or is it better to talk about it later.
Nowadays, there are a lot of great books about human bodies for kids. It is an interesting and visible way for a child to know his body better. It is very helpful, especially for parents, who have no idea how to explain everything properly.
Don’t forget to have discussions with your child to understand what has become clear and what is better to repeat.
How to talk to children about sex when they’re 11 to 14 years old
Usually, this age period introduces stress for many parents because they must bring up the topic of sex, pornography, and puberty. Most children start exploring their bodies, so try to speak about masturbation. Explicate it as something absolutely normal but should be done in private as it is very personal.
By now, it is time to talk about a key topic of every child’s life — puberty. It is necessary to say that human bodies change from birth to death, and there is nothing to be ashamed of or feel insecure about. A great way to make it easier for them to understand is to compare photos of when they were little with what they look like now.
Some doctors say that it is better to talk about puberty when the child or someone around him starts experiencing it. Usually, girls can expect to start puberty between the age of nine and eleven. The indicator is the development of breast buds.
Growing up, many girls feel constrained since everyone has it in different ways, for whom it starts earlier, it seems that something is wrong with them. Parents’ duty is to install confidence in their child, to show that the breast is an absolutely normal part of the female body. For some girls, it grows faster; for others, it is slower. Menstruation comes a few years later, usually around age 12 or 13. However, it is important to say that sometimes it starts earlier, so keep that in mind.
When it comes to boys, puberty usually starts with the first body hair.
When starting a dialogue about puberty, it is worth turning to good books that will help children better understand how this process develops. Talk about changes such as voice, hair grown in new places, genitals, and so on. Do not fit all the information into one conversation, do it gradually.
Children begin to be interested in adult things at this age, and then it is time to talk about pornography. Be very gentle. Some people recommend explaining this stuff as a place where adults do adult things. However, others believe that it is better to be open and talk clear.
Right now, it is better to start talking about sexism and sexualization. Your children may not face it in real life, but give a few examples so that they understand what is at stake. Help them feel strong and not be afraid to go against stereotypes. Show them that thanks to such brave people, women have the opportunity to get an education and, for example, work in politics.
How to talk to teenagers about sex when they’re from 15 to 18 years old
It can be very difficult to talk to a teenager about such topics. Many of them, by this time, become very closed and share little from their personal lives and experiences. This can be a real torment for especially caring parents because the child does not need their help and love as much as he/she needed it when he/she was younger.
Some are already starting to have sex at this age, so the earlier you start the dialogue about the importance of safe sex, the better. Explain to them how necessary it is to make the right decisions to avoid risks and health and mental problems. Do not forget to highlight how birth control and contraceptives work, what various types there are, and so on.
Teenagers have more freedom now, so emphasize the importance of being careful online. Be sure to mention that posting naked or overly explicit photos can be illegal and dangerous. In addition, advise them not to share these photos on the internet or in messages, even if you trust these people as they can use them for their own selfish purposes.
What’s more, early conversations about sex with a child really show its effectiveness in adolescence. If you managed to build a trusting relationship, then even at this age, the teenager will ask for advice and share the facts of his personal life. If needed, help them go to the doctor for hormonal birth control or supply them with condoms.
When it comes to teens, you must help them feel confident and safe, teach them to make the right decisions, and not be afraid of judgment from other people.
To sum everything up, do not avoid talking with children about sex early. By discussing the right topics at the right time, you help the child to become more aware and mature at a young age. Be open about all the difficulties and problems, let them feel your support and help. There is nothing to be ashamed of in sex education. These are completely normal conversations that every parent should have with a child. Always keep that in mind.
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