Sex Ed For Small Kids
As parents, we all want our teenagers to follow our advice about sex when the time comes, right? But is that wish realistic if we create a sense of awkwardness around talking about sex when our children are little? There's no doubt that sex education for very young children should come from their parents. Discussions about sex don't have to be explicit or detailed - start by answering your child's questions as and when they arise.
Embarrassing Questions & Behavior
Your first sex-related chat with your child will probably be triggered by a question about his body parts or yours, or by him playing with or touching his own body parts. Answer his questions directly, and try not to laugh or show embarrassment. Don't overload him with information. If he asks a simple question, like "what's that?" give him a simple answer. If he wants to know more, he will follow up with another question.
Teach him the proper names for his sex organs - don't make up nicknames that might confuse him later on. Don't force the issue. Talk to him when he brings the subject up, perhaps at bath time, for example.
It's very normal for young children to play with their genitalia. It's important to reassure your child that it's ok, but try to introduce the idea that some body parts are private. Private means that it's ok for him to touch them, but that no one else should touch them unless Mommy or Daddy says it's ok (for example, when he goes to see the doctor). Try talking to him about private time - give him examples of times when it's ok to touch, and times when it's not (for example, when in public places).
All these questions and behavior are perfectly natural and all children do it to some degree. So don't fly into a panic thinking your child has an unnatural interest in sex. The idea that young children are not aware of the differences between men and women, for example, is a notion we create for ourselves as adults. Our children prove us wrong on this point time and time again.
Becoming Aware Of Sex
First conversations about sexual intercourse are usually triggered by a naturally occurring event. Perhaps your child has seen something about babies on a TV program, or heard someone say something at day care that's made him curious. Often, a pregnancy will spark a whole set of questions, the most common of which are often:
"How does the baby get inside/get out of Mommy?"
Be up front and answer the question in as much detail as it was asked. Try a response such as:
"Daddy and Mommy make the baby together by cuddling in a special way." If your child accepts this answer, you're off the hook for a while until he wants more detail. If not, he'll ask more questions. Again, don't be afraid to answer as age-appropriately as possible.
Sex Ed Resources
If you want some support in tackling the issue of sex with your young children, try looking online, in bookstores or the local library. There are a number of carefully-tailored books for young kids written by sex education experts, which can help you to deal with this sensitive subject.