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Posts Tagged ‘talking to children about sex’

My three year old daughter is desperate for another sibling and regularly asks me how we can get another baby.  Many parents know that these difficult questions can start from a early age and arming yourself with the answers in advance can make those moments easier.

Linda Goldman author of Great Answers to Difficult Questions about Sex: What Children Need to Know sets out tips for dealing with those tricky questions.

“Children are human beings. Human beings are sexual beings.  A newborn child’s experience with sexuality begins at birth. A mother’s touch, a father’s kiss, a warm bath, and a changed nappy are all a part of our children’s sexuality. As they grow, girls and boys are naturally curious about themselves and their bodies. Toddlers begin exploring genitals in the bathtub. At some time between the ages of two and three the question “Where did I come from?” emerges. Their minds are innocent, not filled with embarrassment or shame. This makes it simpler to answer questions about sex with confidence and humour.” (The Times)

Answering early questions from young children can set a family tone of trust and safety. And by the time a child is older discussions on birth control, abstinence, and sexual activity can be comfortable and relaxed.   By having an open and honest approach to discussing sex and love you will prepare them to be more open with you in the future.

Here are Linda Goldman’s top tips:

  1. Encourage communication. Children need to know they can talk to parents about anything.
  2. Initiate discussion. “Did you notice Aunt Ellen is going to have a baby. Her tummy is so big and the baby is inside. How do you think it got there?”
  3. Start early. Begin to teach in a soft way for the very young child. Include in a toddler’s vocabulary “eyes,” “nose,” “penis,” and “vagina” to ensure appropriate labelling of body parts.
  4. Maintain a safe environment. Build a nonjudgmental environment free of punishment or reprisal about discussing sex.
  5. Honour and respect children’s questions. Remember they are a signal to what they are thinking and feeling.
  6. Understand children’s questions and concerns. Check with your child about the facts of what you heard them ask and what they mean.
    Listen carefully to your child and respect your child’s views.
  7. Remind young people that thoughts and feelings about sex are common.
  8. Remain calm. Children are often satisfied with clear, simple, and factual responses. Wait to see if more is needed.
  9. Practice your response to different questions about sex in order to feel confident when the discussion arises. The more comfortable you can be the more you create a positive and natural message about sex and gender issues for your child.
  10. Explore your attitudes. Children who feel they can have open dialogue with their parents are less likely to later manifest high-risk behaviours. If you are fearful of the subject find material to learn from. Your confidence will grow as you explore the subject.
  11. Have a sense of humour. It creates a relaxed and open family environment.
  12. Answer questions as they come up. There is no one “birds and bees” talk.
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