Sex-Education-Pointers: Talking With Your Kids



SEX-EDUCATION-POINTERS: YOUR CHILD'S BODY

If children are to feel comfortable about sex, they must first feel comfortable about their body. A child should be taught that even though boys and girls are different, a penis or a vagina is not better or worse. Your child needs to know that sex organs are not "dirty" or "unclean". A child's questions about her/his body should always be answered in a matter-of-fact, direct way, using these sex-education-pointers.

The changing body is another area that may worry your child. Changes in the body around age 10 or 12 are a normal part of puberty. To eliminate concerns, use these sex-education-pointers and talk to your child before these changes occur.
The idea is to help your child look forward to the changes as part of growing up! Be sure to let them know that kids develop at different rates and whenever they start to develop, that's just the right pace for them.

Talk to girls about breast development, hair growing under their arms and around the vagina. Talk to them about menstruation and provide them with a "starter kit" which you will have for them when their first period arrives.

Talk to boys about changes in the voice, that it might "crack" as it deepens, hair growing under the arms and around the penis, whiskers may start to appear on the face. Remember, when the first pubic, facial, or underarm hair starts to grow, it may appear as a rash of "red bumps" that may worry a child if they don't know what it is. Talk to boys about "wet dreams", that they are normal and signal that he is becoming a man.


SEX-EDUCATION-POINTERS: SEXUALITY

Keep in mind that a child's sexuality begins at birth. Even infants soon realize that touching their genitals feels good. Your attitude about masturbation can affect your child's sexual development, so always talk about it in a matter-of-fact way. Negative attitudes about masturbation are archiac and harmful. We know that there is a positive relationship between masturbation and sexual fulfillment later in life. Masturbation is a normal, natural part of development. Some parents still feel that if you talk positively about masturbation that children will do it accessively or in front of others. If you let your child know that this is something that is done in private, they will learn about privacy and will respect the privacy of others.
Of course, children are naturally curious, and may want to "play doctor" with their same age friends. If you become aware of this, simply tell the child that the sexual organs are private. Do not overreact! Do explain that you can understand his or her curiosity, but that it is not a good idea to continue the activity.

Sexual Abuse
Of course, it is important to talk to your child about sexual abuse. Sex-Education-Pointers: How to Talk to your Child About Sexual Abuse

Consider these sex-education-pointers because, as a parent, it is important to know the difference between normal sexual curiosity in a child and abuse. Any kind of sexual contact, even verbally inappropriate talk, from an adult is always sexual abuse if perpetrated against a child. Sexual abuse among siblings or younger/older children is a little more difficult to identify. Consider these sex-education-pointers:

AGE DIFFERENCE - Is the older child 3 or more years older than the younger child? Is the younger child pre-puberty and the older child post-puberty.

WAS THERE COERCION, OR THREAT INVOLVED. Did the older child attempt to scare or restrain, or force him or herself on the younger child?

APPARENT NEGATIVE EFFECTS - Did the younger child come to you and tell you about the incident and were they upset, or scared, or did they have any negative emotions about the incident? Are you noticing a change in behavior from the younger child? Does the child seem anxious or worried or is he or she acting out sexually, i.e., masturbating frequently, often in public, or talking about sex with words you have not used with him/her? Or is he or she acting out sexual behaviors with dolls, or drawing pictures of that nature?

If you have any reason to believe your child has been abused by an older sibling, a teenage babysitter, an older child in the neighborhood, or a teen club/scout/camp leader, it is always best use sex-education-pointers to confront it directly with your child and approach it in a calm, reassuring manner, again emphasizing to your child that it's not his/her fault.


SEX-EDUCATION-POINTERS: SEXUAL INTERCOURSE AND OTHER ADULT SEXUAL ACTS

There is probably no other area in parenting that creates more discomfort for parents than talking about explicit sexual things with their child. Isn't it interesting that this is the ONE AREA that parents worry that they may be telling their child "TOO MUCH"?!

There is another outdated belief that if you give children information they will want to act it out. This is simply not true. Studies have shown that the more informed children are, the less likely they are to act out sexually. So, use these sex-education-pointers because for teenagers, the less sex is talked about in the home, the more likely they are to have unprotected sex. We know that the more credible and open parents are about sex, the more children, even teenagers, will use them as a source of information and advice.

School sex education programs and many books talk about sex only as a part of reproduction. With today's media, it's very apparent to children that people have sexual intercourse for other reasons than becoming pregnant. You might even use some of these "awkward TV moments" to talk to your child about your values.

Take these opportunities to have age appropriate discussions with your child about sex. Do they know what is meant by something they just heard on TV? Be honest about the "facts"and don't confuse FACTS with VALUES. It is important for children to know that you are being HONEST about the facts, but they also need to know what your values are about sex. For example, "People who are not married have sexual intercourse (FACT), but we believe it is best if you wait until you are married."(VALUE)

Some parents find it helpful to browse the local bookstore to find books to facilitate discussion with their child about sex. Sex education books could become just another book that your child has in his/her collection. Most books for children indicate the reading and/or understanding level; and this could help in identifying age appropriate presentation of sexual information.

The most important part of sexual discussions with your child is that they should be casual and ongoing and emerge out of the environment as do most other questions your child might have. Sex is a normal, natural part of being human, and your attitudes about sex can convey either a negative "we don't talk about THAT" attitude or an attitude which says, "This is just part of life....any questions?"


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