Talking to Children About Sex

Instructor: Gaines Arnold
This lesson briefly discusses how parents can talk to their children about sex. We'll look at when a couple should start planning for this, how to talk to children at different ages, and the information that needs to be given to different age groups.

A Mountain of Questions

Joyce and Charley rejoiced with their family the day little Garth came into the world, but they also had the same general fears any new parents have. When should they go to a hospital instead of a doctor's office? Should Joyce breastfeed, or would formula be better? What about schools? Should they start looking for a really good preschool now? Even before they left the hospital, the questions were somewhat overwhelming.

But Joyce had one concern that didn't seem to worry Charley. As Garth grew, she wondered when it would be appropriate to start talking to him about sex. This was a question she had even before Garth was born because growing up, her parents had never felt comfortable with the topic. She wanted Garth to be comfortable talking to them about anything happening in his life, so while he was still an infant, she began to think about how she might talk to her son about sex.

How Should You Approach the Subject?

As Garth grows he will start to have age-related questions relating to sex education. Young children might ask where babies come from and be satisfied with a response of 'from Mommy's tummy.' However, as children age they will need more specific information.

Parents need to realize that these questions will arise throughout their child's development, and they need to be ready to address them on an ongoing basis. Additionally, Joyce and Charley need to be open and honest, but they also need to be age appropriate. It might be a good idea to consult books that can help parents talk about sex with children at various ages.

What Should You Say?

One of the biggest problems parents have when their children begin asking questions about sex is personal embarrassment. Parents need to understand that children are going to get the information they want somewhere, and it is best that it comes from them. These conversations don't have to be stressful if parents realize that curiosity about sex is a normal part of development. Joyce and Charley prepared early for the questions they would likely need to address, and other parents would be wise to do the same.

Depending on the type of question and the age of the child, it is appropriate to talk about all types of sexual behavior. For very young children the conversation should cover very basic information and it should get more specific as they get older. School-aged children will have a basic grasp of anatomy, so real terms need to be used. For teens the information should also include the following:

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