No parent looks forward to the day when they have to take steps for the sex talks with kids. However, it can be done easier and with less embarrassment or frustration involved.
We’ve prepared a simple set of steps that can help you make this easier to navigate. While you prefer to handle this conversation privately and with all of the information handy to share, sometimes you need to be able to wing it. These tips will help for both occasions.
7 Steps For The Sex Talk With Kids
Prepare your answers in advance. While you won’t know the exact time or age your child will ask about sex and what it means, you can be prepared well in advance. Children as young as 2-3 years old will ask basic questions if they are around babies, pregnant women or simply more curious. It is never too early to prepare how you want to approach the sex talk. Once you find out you are going to be a parent, it’s time to start considering this. By the time your child is 4-5 years old and headed to preschool or kindergarten, you should be prepared to talk to them about basic things like inappropriate touching, proper names for body parts and why boys and girls look differently.
Don’t wait too long to approach this subject. Just because your 11-12 year old son or daughter hasn’t asked you directly does not mean they are not privy to sexual information. There are various ages when things are more appropriate to discuss than others. A simple breakdown will help you to understand more what to cover and when so your child isn’t getting misinformation somewhere else.
- Age 2-3 teach children that nobody should touch their private parts except for a parent helping them wash at bath time. Here’s an excellent book that should be on every child’s bookshelf.
- Age 4-6 talk openly about how boys and girls bodies look differently and that is how we can easily determine if they are a girl or boy, but also that for babies to be made we have to look different. You can use proper terms for body parts, and explain that a boy makes sperm and a girl makes an egg and that it takes both to make a baby.
- Age 6-8 talk about inappropriate touching again reminding your children that nobody should be touching them on their private parts. You can explain how doctors may need to for an exam, but that no other children, teachers, babysitters, siblings or other family members should be doing so unless it is for a need. Needs consist of things like helping them clean up if they had an accident in their pants, or something like checking their body for ticks or bug bites if they have been out for a hike.
- Age 9-11 is when puberty is beginning in many children now. While not every child is maturing early, it is time to talk about how boys and girls are different so they can make babies. Go back over the things you’ve discussed before, and begin relating this to sex and sexuality. You can talk about the act of sex and how it works if your child is mature enough, but it doesn’t need to be detailed more than the fact that some parts have to go inside others to make a baby.
- Age 11+ depending on individual exposure to television shows, movies, friends thoughts, magazines and even social media children 11 and older may know or think they know much more about sex than you believe. It’s time to start talking about STD’s, protection, safety and why those are important. Regardless of your belief about sex outside marriage, every child and teen needs to understand the medical implications as well as emotional. For older children you may even wish to talk about more intimate things and emotions involved. This varies by family dynamic.
Answer their question, not what you think they are asking. This is especially important with younger children. The question, “where do babies come from?” from a 4 year old doesn’t require you to talk about intercourse. It can simply be, “from inside mommies uterus in her belly”. Think about the question they ask – not what it could mean. If they continue asking after you answer, then you can go into more details as needed.
Use proper medical terms. We often find parents calling private parts by cutsie names. While that can be more politically correct, it is important for your children to know what their body parts are. Using the proper terms early on will make it easy to talk about them later.
Don’t be embarrassed if they ask you about your sexuality. Many children are going to openly ask you questions about your sexuality when you are having the sex talk with kids. This may happen because you share with them about STD’s, sex before marriage, rape or other subjects when they are a bit older. It could simply be asking you directly if you have sex now. It may be embarrassing to think about, but it is a part of life your children need to accept and you shouldn’t be ashamed of. Be honest, without intimate details at appropriate times.
Don’t make sex a shameful subject. Regardless of your feelings about abstinence, sexual orientation or things like pornography – sex should not be something your child is ashamed of. Making sex a dirty subject or something bad will only make them have poor emotions and feelings about it later. You can easily share how you feel about the morality of some sexual things without making your child feel like asking questions is something they shouldn’t do. Be open and honest with your child and make sure they are comfortable with coming to you later if they have more questions, concerns or feel they have made a mistake sexually and need help.
Assure them that their bodies are normal. Every child will change at a different rate. Puberty hits from 9-15 years old depending on the child, their genetics and hormones. Make sure your child knows that their bodies are normal. The feelings, thoughts, concerns and self-esteem issues of a child or even teen in regards to sexuality is a very tender thing. Make sure they know that what society shows as a picture of physical normalcy is not always the case. Build their self-esteem in healthy ways.
These steps for the sex talk with kids will help you to keep your cool, make sure your kids understand on their level and make it easy to approach issues and questions at all ages.