In counseling families, I often ask teens if they are sexually active. Some say, "yes" and others say, "not yet." None of them ask what sex is. That's right, by the time kids are 14 and up, they all seem to know some information about having sex.
But where are they learning this information? School? Their friends? Grey's Anatomy? Pornography? Every parent should talk to their kids about sex, beginning at an early age in a non-shaming way and throughout the child's development. In this post, I'll describe an overview of how to talk to your kids about sex at any age.
1. Very young children. Talk to toddlers about their bodies. Teach them the names of all their body parts, including their genitals. Teach them the anatomically correct names and then use a nickname if desired. Also begin to teach them (in a non-threating way) that some body parts are private and that private parts are not to be displayed to others or touched by others. Private parts are private — "for your eyes only" (excluding parents and physicians).
2. Pre-school kids. Continue to talk to them about their bodies. Answer their questions with short, accurate, age-appropriate answers. You don't have to give all the information — just enough to satisfy their curiosity. Don't be embarrassed by their questions or make your children feel ashamed for wondering about their bodies. Continue to teach them about private parts and "stranger danger" without scaring them. And if they are touching their own genitals (little boys often put their hands in their pants), teach them not to do this in public and that this is a private activity. Again, no shame. Keep reading ...
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