The Big Talk
Sex education is a topic many parents prefer to dodge. And if you have young children, you might think you're off the hook...at least for a while. But that's not necessarily true. Here’s why talking to your kids about sex at an early age is so important.
Sex education is a topic many parents prefer to dodge. And if you have young children, you might think you’re off the hook…at least for a while. But that’s not necessarily true. Here’s why talking to your kids about sex at an early age is so important.
What’s the big deal?
Talking with your child about sex is important to help him develop healthy attitudes toward sex and to learn responsible sexual behavior. Openly discussing sex with your child also allows you to provide accurate information about sex, as well as highlight the moral values and principles you want your children to follow. In addition, they need to understand the possible consequences of being sexually active — including pregnancy and sexually transmitted diseases, as well as being emotionally hurt.
Studies have also shown that kids who feel they can communicate with their parents about sex are more likely to delay the age of first intercourse, and decrease the number of sexual partners in comparison to kids who do not feel they can talk with their parents about the subject.
Where Do I Begin?
Teaching your children about the birds and the bees demands a gentle, continuous flow of information that should begin as early as possible. For instance, when teaching your toddler about his fingers and toes, and their functions, do include information about their genitalia.
As your child grows, you can continue his education by adding more materials gradually. Soon enough you’ll have created an open bond and communication with your child, so that when he reaches his teenage years, he won’t be shy to talk to you about sex.
Look for teach-able moments
Say, for instance, the mother of your 6-year-old’s best friend is pregnant. You can say, “Did you notice that Tina’s mum’s stomach is getting bigger? That’s because she is pregnant. She has a little baby inside her stomach. Do you know how the baby got in?”, then let the conversation move from there.
Give accurate, age-appropriate information
Talk about sex in a way that fits the age and stage of your child. If your five-year-old asks why boys and girls are so different physically, you can say something like, “The body has special thing called hormones decides if someone will be a boy or a girl. Boy’s have a penis and testicles, and when he grows older his voice gets lower and his shoulders get bigger. A girl on the other hand has a vagina. When she gets older she grows breasts and her hips grow rounder.”
Anticipate the next stage of development
Children can get frightened and confused by the sudden changes their bodies go through during puberty. You can prevent this from happening if you talk with your kids about their upcoming stages. A 7-year-old girl is old enough to learn about menstruation, just as a boy that age is ready to learn how about puberty.
Communicate your values
It is imperative to inform your children on your values about sex. While they may not adopt these values as they mature, at least they’ll be aware of them as they struggle to figure out how they feel and want to behave.
Don’t kiddify it
Use correct names for genitals when talking to their children instead of slang like “hoo-hoo” or euphemisms like “down there.” This way, your kids won’t grow up to blush about the topic.
Don’t worry about knowing all the answers to your children’s questions; what you know is a lot less important than how you respond to them. The most important thing is to convey the message that no subject is forbidden in your home.