Talking to Your Child About Sex

Not many topics frighten parents more than talking to their child about sex. However, I hope to convince you if you start early, you can talk about sex bit by bit and create an even closer relationship with your child.

Suggestion 1

Start early. Begin by referring to your child's body parts (genitalia included) using the correct terms. A penis is a penis, not some silly nickname. The vulva is the vulva, not "your nether regions" or "down there." When we act embarrassed or use silly words instead of the correct terminology, we diminish our child's confidence and their evaluation of their body.

Suggestion 2

Answer questions simply. When your 4-year-old sees a pregnant woman and asks about where babies come from, they are not developmentally ready to learn about intercourse. However, you can tell them that babies grow inside a mommy until the baby is strong enough to eat and breathe outside the mommy's body. Talk about how amazing your child's body is and how strong and healthy they are. Answer as simply as possible. If they ask additional questions, answer those simply as well without overburdening them with facts that are too complex for them to understand. Don't say, "I'll answer that question when you're older." This is the time to establish yourself as a warm and comfortable source of good information. You are always happy and unembarrassed to answer their questions.

Suggestion 3

Create a sense of awe about bodies not a sense of shame. When a child falls and scrapes her knee, comfort her by reassuring her that her body will mend. As she heals, point out how remarkable it is that our bodies can fix themselves. Comment about how fast your child runs or how strong he is as he helps carry in the groceries. Creating awe about bodies helps your child develop a strong self-esteem and an appreciation for their body. Bodies are AMAZING!

Suggestion 4

Be interested in what your child thinks. When we talk about bodies or feelings, ask your child what they think. Then listen. Listening to your child's perspective and ideas creates a pattern of autonomy. Autonomy is the sense that you can be self-directed or self-governed. People who have a high sense of autonomy are happier, healthier, and have higher-quality relationships. Encouraging autonomy in your child takes effort on your part, but results in positive outcomes for your child. Give options as often as possible so they can practice making decisions and hopefully, good ones. But if they make poor decisions, let them live with the consequence so that the next time, they will think more carefully about what they did.

Starting when your child is little, make the process of talking about sex more natural and less stressful. Early starts also help children begin to understand the amazing nature of their body from the get-go, which may prevent shaming attitudes. When parents are warm and open about healthy attitudes towards sex, they also create a strong connection with their child. This allows them to influence their child in positive ways and teach them about their own values regarding relationships and sexuality.

Still have questions or are looking for more tips? You can learn more about how to teach children about sex here.


About the author:

Chelom Leavitt earned her masters in marriage, family, and human development at BYU. She received her law degree from J. Reuben Clark Law School, and PHD at Penn State University. She is currently an Assistant Professor at Brigham Young University and focuses her studies on healthy sexuality and sexual mindfulness.

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Thursday, 29 September 2022

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