How To Talk To Kids About Sex: An Age-by-age Guide For Parents
Parents, here's how you must prepare for these big conversations.
Most parents dread the idea of having open sex talks with kids, primarily because they don’t know when and how to do it. However, sex education being a crucial aspect in today’s world, parents must prepare themselves for these big conversations.
According to experts, educating your offspring about sex does not necessarily have to be that one awkward “big talk”. In fact, it is something that should be incorporated into your regular discussions by categorising information as per their age. Otherwise, you may end up telling them too much or too little based on their age. Talking to your kids about sex will greatly influence their idea of sex, making them more responsible when they actually start their sex life. It’s also likely that they will delay the activity, being well aware of its importance as well as consequences and risks. So, let us see what this age-by-age guide has in store for you.
Sex Talks with Kids: What Should Parents Note
Your Role in Kids’ Sex Education: Age 0 to 3
At this age, it is more about introducing the different body parts to your little ones. Just like the hands, legs, fingers, feet and face, use the names of private parts such as vagina, vulva, penis, nipples, bum and clitoris when talking to them.
Incorporate these names in their daily activities and educate them about the uses of each body part. For instance, tell them that urine comes out from their vulva/penis, mommy’s breasts are for feeding them and the tummy empties waste contents through their anus. Of course, you may use slangs for these sometimes but ensure that the real names are often used. This must be done in a very normal manner to show that these parts are just like any other part of the body.
Also note that it’s alright if they touch their body parts and stay naked at times. If you wish to communicate to them that touching private parts in public or all the time isn’t okay, do so in a gentle way in order to avoid making them feel ashamed (like they’re doing something very wrong by touching parts that must be hidden).
How to Talk to Kids About Sex: Age 2 to 5
Now is the right time to talk to your toddlers about boundaries and gender differences. Educate them about the basic difference between a boy and a girl, while also not differentiating between them. Avoid using phrases like “Only girls cry”, “Don’t be such a girl”, or “It’s okay for a girl to hit boys”. Let them understand that girls and boys are different and it’s okay; that mistreating one another isn’t right, that our bodies can communicate what we feel, and so on.
Additionally, teach them about physical boundaries because it’s a time when kids are curious about each other’s bodies. Taking consent before touching someone, not allowing someone to touch them without their consent, that it’s never okay to ask or let someone touch their private parts and that they’re free to talk to you about any inappropriate incidents – these are all extremely important.
Let your kids ask you all kinds of questions so that they don’t rely on other people’s answers. Suppose they ask you how babies are born, would you avoid the question or tell them that children are placed in the womb by god? Well, ignoring such questions or giving a wrong answer only makes them feel like it’s a topic not to be discussed! Instead, explain how all living things reproduce and keep it simple by saying that a man and woman come together to make a baby and it’s not something for kids to do.
How to Talk to Kids About Sex: Age 6 to 8
Elaborate on the reproductive organs and parts, and also educate your kids that some body parts give a pleasurable sensation when touched. Give a basic introduction about puberty and how their bodies will change. Teach them how to respect each other’s personality and not mock a person’s body shape.
Let them know the meaning of sex, intercourse and sexual behaviour (that sex is only for adults). Masturbation and porn are also important topics to outline at this age – supervise their Internet usage, handle the situation calmly if you see them browsing something inappropriate and explain to them that these are adult things, not safe for kids. When talking about masturbation, teach them that it’s a private activity and that good hygiene is important.
Help them develop the habit of saying ‘No’ to inappropriate touches or comments, while also staying away from strangers and sharing any information/images with them. Also talk to them about different kinds of love, relationships, friendships, respect towards all genders, boundaries, personal skills and sexual abuse.
Your Role in Kids Sex Education: Age 9 to 12
9 to 12 is another crucial age group and it’s a good time for you to talk to them in detail about sexism, sexual intercourse, safe sex, sexual abuse, puberty and physical changes. You can provide good sex education books and refer to real life examples when explaining about social behaviour, sexism and stereotypes. Share the importance of safe sex and the risks involved. Make sure to ask questions as to what they think about these topics and correct them if they’re wrong.
Do check with the girls how they’re feeling about their bodies and whether they are body shamed, sexually harassed or abused verbally/physically. Internet security and illegally sharing or receiving nude pictures are also key points of discussion. Overall, be friendly and let them know that they can confide in you to talk to you about anything and everything.
How to Talk to Kids About Sex: Teenagers
This is the age where your kids slowly stop paying heed to you, so you’ll be glad that you did all the talking before they reached adolescence. Now that you’ve developed a strong bond with them, it will be easier to discuss in detail about how pornography exaggerates sex, cyber security, building respectful relationships with the opposite sex, STDs, fertility after puberty and contraception.
Remember that teenagers need more of real talks rather than lectures and advice. Be open and listen to them about all their teenage issues, thereby welcoming a healthy talk for their own benefit.
Importance of Sex Education
Questions like “What are private parts?” and “How are babies born?” from kids are not something new for parents. It can be quite an awkward moment for you if you don’t have the answers ready; and dodging their questions or giving false answers is certainly not advised. It doesn’t take much time for youngsters to receive wrong information on this subject, either via digital source or their friends. Therefore, sex education plays a vital role in shaping your kids’ minds right from their early age. Parents must receive guidance on sex talks with kids so that the kids don’t resort to outside sources for information. It’s always better if they hear about it from you first (at least you’ll know that they have received the right information) before they get to know from somewhere else.
I hope this article serves as a helpful guide on how to talk to kids about sex. Protect your children from sex abuse by educating them throughout their growing years and ensure that they grow up to be responsible people. Also understand that sex education doesn’t mean that you’re encouraging sex, instead, you’re answering your kids’ curiosity about the topic and helping prevent any possible damage in future.