So what exactly is this thing called sex education? Today, sex education is about talking naturally and comfortably with our kids about a whole range of things that will one day help them to have deep and meaningful adult relationships.
When to start sex education
In our own childhood, sex education was usually ‘the talk’ that our parents awkwardly gave us as we reached puberty.
Today, we start much earlier, and we slowly provide kids with information that is designed to satisfy their natural curiosity but to also keep them safe. It is lots of small, frequent conversations that you have to keep on repeating.
What to talk about
For kids between the ages of 2 and 5, sex education is learning about being male or female, and learning about their bodies, their body parts and what they do. Sex education helps kids recognise and manage their feelings, get along with others and most importantly, know the difference between public and private spaces, behaviours and parts. It also helps them understand rules about touching.
We don’t talk to them about sex until much later, when they are between 4 to 5 years old. They start off wanting to know really basic stuff like where do babies come from before they actually want to know about sexual intercourse.
Top tips to get you started
There is no ‘one formula’ for sex education, but there are some principles that you need to keep in mind:
- You will feel embarrassed – but the more you talk, the less embarrassed you will feel.
- If you tell your child something that they aren’t ready for, they won’t remember it! It will go in one ear, and out the other.
- It is about lots of small, frequent chats – and repetition.
- Keep it super simple – at a level that your child will understand.
- Be honest – if they are old enough to ask the question, they are old enough to know the answer.
- Look for everyday opportunities that you can use for a teachable moment! If you see a pregnant lady walking down the street, point her out and say ‘Why do you think that lady has a big tummy?’ and start talking about pregnancy.
- Start building up a library of sex education books that will help you with initiating a conversation with your child – Everybody Has a Bottom, What Makes a Baby, and Mummy Laid an Egg, are just a few.
- Before answering their question, ask them ‘What do you think?’ first. This way you can find out what they already know and what exactly it is that they are wanting to know.
- If you don’t know the answer to their question, tell them you will get back to them with an answer.
- Just remember you want to be approachable – you want your kids to know that they can talk to you about anything.
Baby Hints and Tips readers can download my parent scripts on ‘Where do babies come from’.