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Kids and Sex | When to Have the Big Sex Talk With Your Children

 

My daughter has been asking me a lot of, ahem, questions lately. She recently ambushed me in the middle of Target to ask “how babies got into your stomach” (and, if she stopped eating would one grow in there instead?).

Yesterday, after picking her up from school, she wanted to know when she would get a boyfriend, how and who it would be.

Did I mention that she’s FOUR?!?

When to Talk to Your Kid About Sex

Clearly it’s time to talk to my daughter about relationships and maybe have a little sex-lite discussion. All of the experts that I’ve read say the best time to talk to your kids about sex is when they start showing an interest. And, she’s showing interest. Shockingly, some kids show interest as young as two or three when they start to notice their “private parts.”

And, by the way? For the love of all that is good it is ok to tell your kids the real names of their body parts (no need to gloss over “penis” or “vulva and vagina” just because you’re uncomfortable). According to KidsHealth.org, “a Gallup poll showed that 67% of parents use actual names to refer to male and female body parts.” So while it’s not fun for my mom when the four year old pulls out the vagina talk at church, at least the kid has an understanding of her body parts and not some weirdo name for them.

How Do You Talk to Your Kid About Sex?

The best way to approach sex talk with young kids is to stay basic in descriptions. Preschoolers don’t need a lot of detail at that age. And, by the way, “where did I come from?” may just mean the kid wants to know where he or she was born. So, make sure you understand what they’re asking before you launch into a sexual anatomy dissertation.

If by age 7 or 8 your kid hasn’t brought up sex, experts say you should talk to them about it.

ChildrenNow.com recommends something like this:

Say, for instance, the mother of an 8-year-old’s best friend is pregnant. You can say, ‘Did you notice that David’s mommy’s tummy is getting bigger? That’s because she’s going to have a baby and she’s carrying it inside her. Do you know how the baby got inside her?’ then let the conversation move from there.

Bottom line? Be honest with your kids … even if you’re uncomfortable. Use books or television shows or even real-life situations to segue, explain and illustrate. And, be sure you’re getting the real point across.

“What is so fascinating to me is 90 percent of the mothers, our readers, thought that they had had the conversation with their daughters about sex. When you talk to the daughters, you’ll find out, well, no, you didn’t really quite have the conversation,” Gayle King, O magazine’s editor-at-large, told Oprah.com.

O Magazine’s survey results showed that 78 percent of mothers think their daughters feel comfortable talking to them about sex, but  really only 39 percent of daughters actually feel comfortable talking to their moms.

So, make sure that your kids know that it’s ok to ask questions about their bodies, their feelings and sex in general.

What to Include in Your ‘Sex Talk’

Your “talk” will vary and expand as the child ages. A first talk should certainly cover the “basics” like male and female anatomy, understanding their own genitals and how a baby is made. As your child grows and develops, you continue the talk based on changes in his or her body and also understanding of the topic.

ALSO ON PRIME PARENTS CLUB : ‘Smash or Pass’ Popular Facebook Teen Sex Game

WebMD recommends using the following as a guideline for what to cover when you’re talking to your kids. (Of course, you are going to edit based on age and understanding.)

  • Explanation of anatomy and reproduction in males and females
  • Sexual intercourse and pregnancy
  • Fertility and birth control
  • Other forms of sexual behavior, including oral sex, masturbation, and “petting”
  • Sexual orientation, including heterosexuality, homosexuality, and bisexuality
  • The physical and emotional aspects of sex, including the differences between males and females
  • Self-image and peer pressure
  • Sexually transmitted diseases
  • Rape and date rape, including how being intoxicated (drunk or high), or accepting rides/going to private places with strangers or acquaintances puts you at risk
  • How choice of clothing and the way you present yourself sends messages to others about your interest in sexual behavior

 

Remember, talking about sex doesn’t mean you’re condoning it and you can make that clear during your discussions. Don’t you want your kid learning the truth about sex from you instead of relying on kids at school for incomplete information? Shudder.

Have you talked to your kids about sex? How did you handle it?

Parenting Sex Talk Resources

Your Body Belongs to You (Preschool)

Amazing You!: Getting Smart About Your Private Parts (Preschool)

Who Has What?: All About Girls’ Bodies and Boys’ Bodies (Let’s Talk about You and Me) (Preschool)

How and When to Tell Your Kids About Sex: A Lifelong Approach to Shaping Your Child’s Sexual Character (God’s Design for Sex)

Let’s Talk About S-E-X: A Guide for Kids 9 to 12 and Their Parents

How to Talk to Your Child About Sex: It’s Best to Start Early, but It’s Never Too Late — A Step-by-Step Guide for Every Age

Ten Talks Parents Must Have with Their Children About Sex and Character

What’s the Big Secret?: Talking about Sex with Girls and Boys

Image: Ambro

Along with being a contributor to PrimeParentsClub.com, Jacqueline Wilson is: Appalachia Advocate~Supporter of Women~Writer~Accidental Pit Bull Advocate. Founder and executive director of Monkey Do Project and co-author of 50 Shades of Frayed: What Happens When 'I Do' Becomes 'Not Tonight': A Humorous Mompilation.

2 Comments

  1. Rachel H

    September 25, 2012 at 10:24 pm

    Yes. My girl is 4 and WOW…she is noticing everything. From a girl on Maxim “in her underwear” to finally realizing that all areas south of her belly button aren’t just her “butt”. So as she asks, I’ll answer to the best of my ability to keep it easy for her to understand.

  2. Margaret

    September 20, 2012 at 11:16 am

    Excellent advice all around, Jackie!

    With my kids, we’ve been pretty open and straight up with them. And now that my girl is officially a tween I am so relieved that we’ve been so open because it makes it a whole lot easier to discuss things like puberty and yeast infections and sex mainly because we’ve done so all along.

    My daughter actually surprises me with how open she’ll be with me. My mother and I Never. Discussed. A. Thing. Ever. Which goes to show that starting early (before it gets cringe-worthy for us!) makes it easier to deal with the more…sophisticated issues.