Many parents feel anxious and uncertain about educating their children about sex.
When is the right time? How should you go about it?
So it’s that time of the year. Your child is all grown up and you need to give them the “Sex Talk” which you have been hushing for so long. When you sit down and actually start to begin, you don’t know where to start at.
Experts recommend you consider buying a children’s book on sexuality to guide you through the tougher topics and, when possible, broach a sex-related subject in terms of a TV show or movie you and your child have seen, or a book he or she has read. The goal is to inform and protect your children while making them feel good — not ashamed — of their bodies.
To begin with, teach young kids about topics like:
Children need to understand from the time they’re very young that no one is allowed to touch their private parts unless mommy or daddy says it’s okay (for example: at the doctor’s) and the child should tell a trusted adult about any such touching.
Kids sometimes play “doctor”, or “I’ll-show-you-mine-if-you-show-me-yours” – that’s common because children are naturally curious about each other’s bodies so be sure to keep an eye out for such games.
Kids have to know that when they surf the Internet, they shouldn’t “talk” to someone unknown to them any more than they would if a stranger approached them on the street.
Beyond talking the talk, you can take action to limit your young child’s exposure to inappropriate sexual messages.
Take these steps for starters:
- Monitor the TV shows and movies your kids watch, so they don’t become overstimulated and desensitized to sexual acts.
- Keep any erotic media – magazines, books, videos, etc – out of little ones’ reach.
- Use parental controls on your TV sets, thereby locking channels unsuitable for youngsters.
Beyond the Birds-and-Bees basics
Though schools often include sex education in the curricula – they might impart some information about Aids and pregnancy, for example – parents, too, should be involved with educating their children about these issues of physical health, and about the moral aspects of sexual behavior.
Prepare your pre-teen kids for puberty, so they’re not caught with their proverbial pants down. Offer your children the information in small doses, experts recommend, rather than in one “big talk”.
Your pre-teen son should know:
- His penis and testicles will start to increase in size and his scrotum will change colour.
- His erections will become more frequent during puberty, and he may have nocturnal emissions, or “wet dreams”.
- He may experience a growth spurt and his voice will begin to change.
Your pre-teen daughter should know:
- She will get her period at some point – a change meaning she can become pregnant.
- Her body, including her breasts, will be developing and could change at a slower or quicker pace than her friends’ bodies.
Whether your child is a boy or girl, both mom and dad should be involved in talking with them about sex, to provide both a man’s and woman’s perspective.
Note: If you have teenagers with whom you have not been talking and who aren’t receptive, ask an older brother, sister, close friend or another person who shares your values to help.
They may do it anyway
Teach your kids that not having sex is the only way to guard 100% against pregnancy, as well as Aids and other sexually transmitted infections.
Get across to your kids that they should come to you or another trusted adult if they are considering intercourse. But know that not all kids will inform their parents of their sexual intentions, and the average age at first intercourse in the United States is 16 years old for American males and 17 years old for females.
In South Africa, the age is at 12 years old.
How much should I tell my child about sex?
It depends on your child. If they seem happy with your answer and don’t ask a follow-up question, you’ve probably given them enough information. If they ask another question, you can tell them more.
You don’t have to go into detail. A short, simple answer might be enough. For example, if your three-year-old asks why she hasn’t got a penis like her brother, you could tell her that boys have penises on the outside and girls have vaginas on the inside. This could be enough to satisfy her curiosity.
Work out exactly what your child wants to know. For example, if they ask a question, such as “Where do babies come from?”, identify what they’re asking. Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be.
You could answer by saying: “Babies grow in a woman’s tummy, and when they’re ready they come out into the world”. This might be enough.
If not, your child’s follow-up question could be, “How does the baby get in there?” You could answer, “A man puts a seed in there”. Or your child may ask, “How does the baby get out?” You could answer, “It comes out through a special passage in the woman’s body called a vagina”.
Normalize terms related to sex such as ‘vagina’ and ‘penis’ so the child does not feel uncomfortable using them.
Have an answer ready for awkward situations
No matter how open you are about sex, there will be times when you need a quick answer to deal with awkward questions, for example, in the supermarket queue or on a bus.
Say something like, “That’s a good question. I’d like to talk about that when we get home”, or “That’s a good question, but we need to talk about it in private. Make sure you remember to talk about it later.”
Worried that teaching your kids about condoms for safer sex will give them the message you condone premarital intercourse? Your morals matter, but be sure not to bury your head in the sand.
Let’s take an example. For instance, talking to me about snowboarding doesn’t make me want to snowboard. But if I am going to take up something new – snowboarding, or say inline skating – someone should tell me about helmets and knee-pads to protect me, so I don’t kill myself. Similarly, open up and start teaching your kids about Sex and how it works. It is direly needed before they commit a sin from where there is no U-turn.
You should also see: https://www.todaysparent.com/family/parenting/age-by-age-guide-to-talking-to-kids-about-sex/
I never learn anything talking. I only learn things when I ask questions ~ Lou Holtz