Children will feel a natural sense of curiosity about their bodies, differences in their private parts, pregnancy, sex and a whole range of topics that could make the most confident parent quake. Knowing how much to teach about sex to children as they grow older and dealing with questions that arise can be difficult. However, the awkwardness that a parent may feel during child sex educationshould not lead to a delay in this important discussion.
Delaying Child Sex Education
Children learn from their peers, from seniors in school, and from music, movies and video games. Often, child sex education from these sources can lead to children having skewed impressions of sex and the opposite sex. Older children incorrectly explaining sex, violent or aggressive video games and adult movies may offer misrepresentation of man-woman relationships – all of this could lead to young children internalizing skewed ideas of these topics. If parents create an atmosphere of comfort in which to teach about sex it is easier for them to control and shape these ideas.
Introducing and Explaining Sex
Setting a time and place for a discussion is not always the best way for child sex education. Children could become acutely uncomfortable with a sit-down lecture on the subject, especially if it has been taboo until then. Also, questions on sex could arise at any time, just like other questions, and parents will be unprepared to teach about sex.
Answering questions or explaining sex in a straightforward, casual manner is the best approach parents can adopt. Often, a book or movie has a storyline that can be used to introduce child sex education. Just letting a child know that you are there to answer any questions they may have is enough. Frequently, children will ask questions by themselves, especially when very young. Reacting with embarrassment or telling them not to worry about the question instead of teaching about sex will merely cause a sense of guilt or shame in the child, and not answer the question.
Appropriate Information to Teach About Sex
Subjects such as why boys and girls have different private parts or where babies come from are usually of interest to young children. For very young children, parents can offer simple child sex education or choose terminology that they are comfortable with. However, many parents offer direct answers when explaining sex, but avoid unnecessary details, such as “Babies grow in the mothers’ bellies”, or use real terms such as ‘penis’, or ‘vagina’.
While young children will be satisfied with such answers, older children will want more information. Parents can opt for child sex education books that are meant for such dilemmas, and sit with their children to go through these books.
Child Sex Education and Setting Rules
Just as parents teach children about behaving in society, children learn what is expected of them when it comes to sexuality and their bodies from child sex education. Young children may be curious about their bodies or want to look at each other’s private parts. Telling your child in a mild manner that while you know they are curious, their bodies are private. You should also use this time to further teach about sex and sexual abuse. Explain good and bad touching, and tell children if someone touches them in a manner that makes them uncomfortable, they should let you know. Young children also play with their private parts, often in public, causing embarrassment to their parents. Parents could tell the child that while they know it might feel comforting, it is not good manners to touch themselves in public.
It is best to keep in mind that a healthy curiosity about all topics is natural, and sex is just one of those topics. Answering questions or providing information during child sex education will not lead to children becoming promiscuous; however, it is important to provide age-appropriate information while explaining sex so as not to confuse or upset the child.
1. How to talk with your children about sex – Planned Parenthood
2. Questions and answers about sex – Kids Health
3. Talking to pre-adolescent children about sex – Net Doctor