A Parent’s Guide to Talking With Children About Sex
We know that talking to children about sex is one of the things we need to do. Not only do we know we need to do it, we need to do it right and do it well. We want to be the one our kids turn to with questions about it – it’s better to learn from us than from porn, right? We want them to know that they can ask us anything, that no topic is closed. They don’t need to be embarrassed for us.
However, it is difficult to figure out how to get there. Many parents are afraid of this. Maybe you still have memories of the awkward four-minute information about “birds and bees” you received from your own parents – if you ever talked about it.
The good news is, the sooner you start, the easier. And the more you split the conversation into smaller conversations (and rely on some outside resources along the way), the better you will be at it. We’ve compiled all of our top tips for talking with kids about sex into one comprehensive guide that you can use over the years.
You may think that there is no way for you to lay the groundwork for talking about sex with your toddler or preschooler. But really? It is much easier to talk about penises, vagina, sperm and eggs with a small child than with a teenager. And starting early and developing a conversation over the years is much less uncomfortable than “talking” once when the child is finally old enough to be embarrassed and already finds this topic taboo:
Most parents wait too late to start talking about sex with their children. By the time my mom started talking to me about sex, I already knew a lot more than she thought.
You can start talking to your kids about sex as soon as they can strike up a short conversation. In the Parenting section, specific topics are fairly well presented that children can cope with in different age groups. For example, children as young as two can be taught to call their own names for their genitals. At about age three or four, you can start giving simple descriptions of where babies come from. At five or six years old, you can raise your level before babies are born.
Knowing that you should talk to your children about things like gender, gender, puberty, and menstruation is one thing. Finding words at the moment is another matter. It will get easier over time, but if you need a little help getting started, this video tutorial from Amaze will help you:
Sponsored by the nonprofit Advocates for Youth in partnership with Answer and Youth Tech Health, Amaze has created many resources for parents and children to navigate a variety of sensitive topics. Its Age Guide is especially helpful as it categorizes dozens of videos for people ages 3+, 5+, 7+, 10+, 13+, and for caregivers. Topics include:
We constantly use real life experiences to talk to kids about serious things. When one child mistreats another in the playground, it provides an opportunity to talk about being inclusive or confronting bullies. Turn on the news now and you will have the “opportunity” to talk about racism, women’s rights, climate change, gun control, or simply basic human decency.
If you are deliberately looking for opportunities to talk about sex in the same small doses , then there are plenty of them too:
It’s time to ditch the old let-me-sit-down sex talk in favor of something more enjoyable — and more effective. I propose micro-conversations that number in the hundreds over the years of adolescence.
How to participate in micro chat? Simple. You are looking for moments in your daily interactions with children to bring up important topics related to sex. You can use current affairs, community events, social media, television, and books to ask questions and spark discussions.
This approach keeps your kids informed without the stress of a single rush of facts face to face.
Naming our body parts and explaining the basics of how a baby is born is a great start, and these conversations are often conducted by curious little children asking innocent questions.
However, as our children get older, we also need to talk to them about puberty, sexual safety and consent, how sex is portrayed in the media, and gender identity, among other topics. And this is happening at a time when they are becoming less and less likely to turn to us for these answers, so we need to become even more proactive in this regard:
When children are younger, they will naturally ask questions out of curiosity. As they reach their teens and teens, they are more likely to be shy about sex. They won’t want to talk about it so easily, especially with their parents. You should initiate these conversations on a regular basis, because if you wait for your teen to bring the issue up, it just won’t happen. They may also accidentally receive a message that sex is a forbidden topic.
If right now you say, ” Oh shit, my kid is 13 years old and I never talked to them about this,” take a deep breath. Everything is fine. Regardless of their age, you can get started now. With a teenager or teenager, you can simply start a dialogue by saying, “You know, I just realized that we’ve never really talked about sex before. This is my fault, I should have brought this up earlier because you are growing up so much. What questions do you have? “
To help your older child feel less awkward, try starting a conversation when you are alone, but in an environment that encourages open conversation, such as when you are in the car together or walking in the park – two settings that allow you to have a personal conversation in which your child can ask honest questions without being exposed to constant direct eye contact.