When to Talk to Your Child about Sex

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The Birds and the Bees

Talking to children about sex is akin to treading a minefield for most parents. It’s a task they would rather postpone, evade, or forget! But explaining the birds and the bees to children, according to psychologists, is primarily a parental obligation and should not be left to schools.

Explaining sex appropriately has important psychological spinoffs for your child’s sexual health later in life. Most parents are unsure when to tackle this tricky subject.

The answer to this is, as soon as your child asks. Children as young as four or five are naturally curious about where babies come from and will accept simple, straightforward answers from their parents. It’s best to convey information in snippets over time, depending on the child’s age and particular situation. Kids don’t really want long, drawn out explanations!

Importantly, parents should not prevaricate and resort to ‘babies beneath bushes’. This could later lead to children losing faith in their parents as truthful and trustworthy sources of information.

When to Talk to Your Child about Sex

Explaining the Birds and Bees

Parents typically teach their little ones the names of every body part except the genitals, which can convey the notion that talking about these organs is a taboo. In a matter of fact way, tell your children the names of their private parts and explain that these help us differentiate between boys and girls.

As children get older, dole out information about a man’s sperm and woman’s egg combining to make babies. Few small children ask about intercourse, but if your 6-year-old does, explain this in simple terms about how parents, when they wish to make a baby, must get close enough for their sperm and eggs to meet. This is also a great opportunity to link sex with love and respect between the sexes.

Inevitably, the next question that pops up is how babies come out from their mother. Here too, respond accurately and plainly, explaining that a mother’s vagina is a special organ from where babies emerge into the world.

Having the Sex Discussion with Tweens

Building trust and open lines of communication with children when they are small helps hugely as they head towards the turbulent waters of adolescence. Tweens, bombarded with explicit messages about sexuality through various media, come under huge pressure to fast forward themselves into adulthood. Help your tween combat these influences by being available for frank, collaborative discussions on a range of issues from dating and sexually transmitted disease to vulgar and violent lyrics in contemporary music.

Parents are a child’s best source of information about the birds and the bees. So, if you haven’t had ‘The Talk’ yet, get started!

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