How And When Is The Right Time To Talk To Your Child About Sex?
As kids are growing up, there are more and more things they want to find out. They want to understand things that are around them, learn to communicate with people who surround them and see themselves as an essential part of society. As their minds develop, so are their bodies.
That is when questions about sex and sexuality arise.
When it’s time to have “the talk”, most of the parents feel scared and embarrassed. It’s okay to hesitate and look for the right approach to talk to the child about sex. But you don’t need to put off the conversation for too long. Here is some practical advice on how to explain sex and sexuality to your teen.
When is the right time?
Nowadays, kids develop earlier than we did. They have access to all information thanks to the Internet. So, your child may already know what you are going to tell them.
Nevertheless, the role of an honest conversation between you and your offspring is essential. If you don’t want your child to adopt the wrong understanding of sexuality, it’s advised to have a talk in the preschool years.
If you hesitate whether the time has come, pay attention to your kid’s interests. For example, you can find out how to track a cell phone of your kid and see their website history. If there are adult sites in the list, your child has probably had some questions about sex.
How to get started?
It may take courage to initiate a conversation about sex. But if you can’t make up a way to approach your child with this topic, you can use a naturally occurring event as an example. Maybe one of your relatives got pregnant? Or you have just seen condoms ad while watching TV together? You can start by asking your child what they think about the situation and provide your further explanation.
You can also get some help and ideas from books on reproduction and puberty. How to talk with your kids about sex by Dr. John T. Chirban can prove useful. You are free to use different media sources to learn how to describe complex processes in the human body by using simple language.
Talking to your child about sex
Use accurate language
When talking about sex with kids, parents often try to mask the actual terms of individual parts of the body as well as processes they are involved in. But there is nothing embarrassing in calling things what they are. Creating silly names for your kid’s private parts you will only make the complicated topic even more confusing. Use accurate terminology to make sure your child can identify their parts and know what they are for.
Dispel the myths
There are a lot of stereotypes about sex and sexuality your child may unintentionally conform to.
They can pick up some information about sex from friends and the Internet, but it is usually distorted from reality. Try to explain how things work between two people in love using an honest and straightforward way possible. Explain that both men and women can make the first move and dispel other myths.
Encourage the interest
If your child is ashamed to ask you about sex, try to show your open and non-judgmental attitude. Avoid snapping at your child’s questions and wondering where did they hear about this or that. If you don’t tell them, your kid can find out the answer online. As the child may understand things, not the way they are, your advice is essential to help them know their bodies.
Shed some light on sexuality
Sexuality is a very complex topic. It doesn’t only relate to sex as an act. Sexuality covers gender, intimacy, feelings, flirt, romance and more. When you explain sexuality to the child, tell them about the positive perception of their own body, and teach your kid to be attentive, caring and respectful as a partner.
Stress on the safety of your teen
You should always keep in mind the general safety rules. If your teen is already dating, there is a chance that sexual intercourse may happen.
Tell them about protection from potential diseases as well as unwanted pregnancy. Set an emergency code to be able to come and help your child in case of an uncomfortable situation.
Talk about overexposure
Modern tweens and teens are all about Facebook and Snapchat. They post a lot of personal photos and may even exchange semi-nudes with their boyfriends and girlfriends. Warn your child about the consequences of exposing their private pictures to interested people. Explain that some parts need to be hidden from everyone.
Inform not permit
It’s good if you can act openly and talk to your child about sex freely. But make sure they don’t comprehend your explanation as permission to become sexually active. Your information is meant to satisfy the curiosity of the child. So, if you keep your explanation clear and concise, your teen won’t misinterpret it.
Share your own experience
By knowing that you have been there too, your kid will trust you more and listen to your advice. Share your personal experience and tell how you felt during puberty.
Even if your child feels like nobody went through that pain and embarrassment before, your own story will make them more aware of other people’s problems and successes.
With the knowledge you give them, your kid will be able to make the right choices. But nobody can avoid mistakes. Make sure that your child can ask for your help and support in any uncomfortable situation. Even if something embarrassing or humiliating takes place, gather all your patience to help your kid instead of judging them.
Teach them to recognise inappropriate behaviour
It can be difficult for a little human to understand that some touches can be harmful. You need to be as clear as possible to help your child differ a pleasant touch from an inappropriate one. Any child can face abusive behavior towards themselves. So, arm your kid with information to identify harmful behavior towards themselves and others.
Things To Consider When Explaining Sexuality to Children
If it’s a girl
As girls develop, many things that are happening with their bodies can be surprising and scary for them. Periods start at a different time for everyone, and you can’t predict when your daughter will have one.
Not every school gives proper health and sex education lessons to tell tweens and teens about menstruation. Not surprisingly, when it happens for the first time, a child may be scared and even embarrassed. So, it’s better that you have a conversation about menstruation earlier.
The best thing you can do as a parent is not only to explain why your daughter’s organs function like that and prepare her for the first period. If you are a mother, you can refer to your experience, and tell how you felt when the periods started.
Not only provide a lot of details regarding why and when it happens, but also explain basic hygiene rules and show your daughter what sanitary products she can use.
As the first period may be an uncomfortable and unpleasant thing, make sure your daughter doesn’t feel uncomfortable discussing it with you. Be open for the conversation to help your child establish a healthy attitude towards changes in her body.
If it’s a boy
The boys start noticing their first sexual characters at a very young age too. They may spot the erection of other boys and hear the related jokes even in first grade. So, it would be best if you start educating your son earlier.
The first thing to discuss is the shame around the natural bodies’ response. Make sure your son doesn’t feel embarrassed or humiliated when the first erection happens.
As wet dreams are also common for boys as they reach puberty, don’t avoid this topic.Explain that they often occur unexpectedly and one can’t control them.
While telling your son about what’s happening with his body, use correct terms to help him get comfortable with actual names of the parts of the body.
What your child can find out about sex from school, friends and the Internet?
Even if you initiate a talk earlier, there is no guarantee your child hasn’t heard anything about sex from someone else. Kids always discuss the things that happened to them with their peers, so the chances are that your child may already know about puberty, menstruation and wet dreams. But this fact doesn’t play down the importance of your involvement.
As media, school and friends educate your child on sex and sexuality, such knowledge may not always be helpful but contribute to the development of psychological issues and fears. All people eventually find out what sex, relationship and sexuality are in real life. But helping your child pick up the non-distorted understanding from the beginning of their puberty is essential.
What to tell your child about porn?
As your kid uses the Internet freely, they may come across adult material. Tweens and teens may even look for porn videos intentionally. If you notice your child looking for adult videos, try not to get angry or irritated. This actually can be a very teachable moment for you. It can show you what information your child lacks.
While most of the teens can sometimes watch porn, they may get insecure about their appearance and body. Not only porn can affect their self-esteem, but also create a warped image of a healthy relationship. Seeing perfect human body parts on the screen, the teen may start looking for an ideal partner and feel disappointed every time they notice flaws in their own or someone else’s appearance.
So, what you can do is not to restrict access to porn. Such a ban will work for a short time, and the teen eventually finds out the way to continue consuming adult content. What is advised to do is to have an honest conversation with your child about porn and its effects.
Let your kid acknowledge the fact that an online image is entirely different from a real one. Perfect people don’t exist, and a pleasant appearance is not the main thing they can look for in someone else.
Also, discuss the portrayal of sexual intercourse in porn. Adult videos impose unachievable standards of sexual behavior. Pornography doesn’t show the emotional bonding of partners and surely doesn’t reflect the awkwardness of the process that may take place.
You can teach your child to pursue love, comfort and security in a relationship instead of perfect, but fake image promoted by media. By initiating honest conversation, you will be able to fill their knowledge gaps and know your teen’s attitude towards sex and sexuality.
Avoid being too intrusive
When children reach their teenage years, parents become worried and stressed out. As a result, many moms and dads start being too intrusive and nosy. Of course, we want our child to share every single detail of the adulting process, including first love, first kiss and first sex. That’s when parents start asking too many questions, and teens become withdrawn.
Try to be a respectful parent and know that your child has own boundaries you shouldn’t cross. Instead of being persistent in asking who your teen daughter or son dates, try being supportive with their first relationship even if you don’t know the partner yet. Show your willingness to know your child better, but don’t overdo with it. If you keep asking too many questions, you may not get any information at all. Keep your interest at the low-key level and give your child time to share everything with you when they feel like doing it.