Sex is a topic that makes many parents run for cover, but explaining “the birds and the bees” is a conversation every parent needs to have with their kids.
Parents are the most critical people in a child’s life and affect their sexual development. The sex talk should be an ongoing dialogue throughout the child’s life, helping them make sense of their feelings.
Sex Talk Dos: • Do stay relaxed • Do express your feelings and hear your child’s feelings about your talk • Do have child explain what he/she has learned/knows about sex • Do empower child with accurate information • Do listen • Do explain sexual choices, feelings and actions • Do provide loving, caring interactions (tickle, hug, kiss) • Do support body exploration, especially during hygiene and toilet training • Do monitor social exposure and models — from TV to personal contacts
Sex Talk Don’ts: • Don’t be judgmental or criticize • Don’t compare your child with others • Don’t violate confidences unless adolescent at risk • Don’t be evasive or avoid certain questions • Don’t shame because of what child does or says sexually • Don’t reference what child does sexually as “funny” or “bad” • Don’t project adult behaviors onto infant
Ages 0-3: • Kids at this age begin to explore their bodies physically. As a parent, you should call the body part what it is: “penis,” “vagina.” You do not want to use nicknames for private parts. You want to be clear as a parent, and use the proper anatomy names. • Parents should not judge their children in a negative way because they are curious about their bodies. You do not want to make the child feel shameful.
Ages 4-5: • Kids will start to ask questions about sex, and parents should tell their children that the mommy has a uterus and that is where a baby starts to grow.
Ages 6-8: • Parents should talk about some of the realities of puberty and what body changes will occur in boys and girls. • Basic sex education is occurring and parents should say that the penis enters the vagina. • Do not avoid conversations that refer to sex.
Ages 9-11: • Parents continue to talk to their kids about sex, and introduce the topic of sexual intercourse. • Sexuality is a form of pleasure. They will begin to form romantic feelings, crushes, and as a parent, you do not want to dismiss them. • You do not want to criticize your child or make them feel uncomfortable for having these feelings.
Ages 12-14: • Children need to be clear about their body, and develop a healthy acceptance of it. • Parents need to help them overcome the changes and fears with sex.