When it comes to awkward conversations (for parents AND kids), nothing beats the age old “Birds and the bees” conversation.
Speaking openly with your child about how their bodies are changing, where babies come from, and the topic of sex in general, can be embarrassing for even the most seasoned adult.
However, it’s more important than ever to make sure your children are aware of these things, so they can make safe decisions and, more importantly, feel like they can come and talk to you about anything, no matter how personal or embarrassing it may be.
So, When is the Right Age To Tell Them?
So when is the right age? It depends on the child. I told my children the truth when they were old enough to ask me. Personally, I would rather have them learn about it from me than from their friends at school, because at least that way I can have control over how they learn, and I know they will be getting the correct facts. Age appropriate of course!
It is good to find a quiet time when the kids are in a good mood and you don’t have a busy day.
Common First Questions Kids Ask
- “How did that baby get inside your tummy?”
- “How will the baby get out?”
- “What does ‘Having Sex’ mean?”
- “Why were you making funny noises last night?”
- “How does the sperm get to the egg?”
Teach Them the Correct Terms
From as early as two years old you can start teaching your kids the right words for genitals. Don’t call it a ‘Wee Wee’ or a ‘Doodle’. Use the correct terms so that there is absolutely no misunderstanding.
By anywhere from 4-6 you can start explaining where babies come from. From there, you can decide when the right time to talk about intercourse is. Girls are having their periods younger and younger these days, some as young as 9 years old, so it’s important to explain this in advance before their bodies begin to change, so they are mentally prepared for when it does happen.
What Questions Are They Asking You?
Also judge the right time by what questions your children are asking, if they start asking the really embarrassing questions early, answer them – and don’t sugar coat it. If they are old enough to ask, they are old enough to know!
Let your children know that they can come to you with any question at all, and that you will give them the right information, the first time. This builds a good trust in your relationship and they are less likely to ask their friends.
Common Questions Asked by Older Kids:
- “Does sex hurt?”
- “Do people only have sex to have babies?”
- “Did you have sex with anyone else before you met Mum/Dad?”
- “What is masturbation?”
- “What is an orgasm?”
- “What is a condom?”
- “How do gay people have sex?”
Having ‘The Conversation’
If you’re having trouble or can’t figure out how to start the conversation, use a picture book to fill in the blanks. There are plenty of books on the market that you can either buy or borrow from the library. Sometimes pictures can give a child a better understanding of complicated concepts like sex. However, don’t rely on the pictures to explain everything. Talk with your child so that he or she knows the information is coming from YOU, not just a random book. This will make a stronger impression, especially when you explain the importance of a healthy and loving relationship that goes along with the sex.
Always keep the topic age appropriate, because if you give it too fast all the information can become overwhelming for a young child. Tick to the timelines mentioned above and you should have no problem.
And finally, above all, emphasise the importance of being open about anything your kids are feeling and encourage them to ask questions.