Ideally, children will get all of the information they need at home from their parents, but school should also be an important source of information.
Here is why:
Thinking about sex is a natural part of puberty. Talking with your kids helps them navigate these new feelings in a healthy way, and lets them know that they can come to you with questions.
It’s important for you to share your personal values and beliefs about sex. As kids go through puberty, it’s normal for them to start having more sexual feelings and thoughts. By acknowledging this and talking to them about these feelings, you’re helping them feel more comfortable and able to make good decisions about waiting to have sex until they’re ready.
Talking with your kids really can make a difference in the choices they make as they get older. If you spend some time thinking about your personal values and what you’d want for your preteen when they’re older, it will be easier to send a clear message. If you’re clear about your hopes for your preteen, they’ll be more likely to adopt those hopes and feelings too.
It’s best to have many small conversations that come up naturally, instead of one big talk. You don’t have to carefully plan to say everything important all at once. Actually, it’s better if talking about sexuality is a lifelong conversation. Doing a little bit at a time helps keep your preteen from feeling overwhelmed or getting bored.
Everyday life has lots of natural opportunities for talking about sexuality — these are often called “teachable moments.” You can use movies, TV, advertisements, and social media as jumping off points to have conversations about sex, sexuality, body image, healthy relationships, and more. You can also talk about experiences you had when you were their age (like a crush or first kiss), to start conversations and learn about what’s going on with them.
It’s normal for these conversations to feel a little awkward at first, but your kids are listening, and they want to know what you value and expect from them. And the more you talk now, the easier it will be to discuss the more complicated stuff as your preteen gets older.
It’s not just about talking. Having a good relationship with your preteen and setting boundaries is important, too. Talking about your values and expectations is important. But so is having a close relationship with your preteen that’s based on respect for each other.
Research shows that young people are less likely to take risks when they feel they have a close relationship with a parent. Staying involved in their life, listening to them, and sharing your life and interests with them can help you build a closer relationship with your preteen.
Setting boundaries for your preteen can also help them avoid risky situations. Here are some things you can do:
Before you talk, think about your values and what you want for your kids: when do you believe it’s okay for them to do sexual things, like kissing and touching? How much further into the future will you think it’s ok for them to think about having sex? What milestones will you want them to reach before having sex (be in a loving relationship, be prepared with birth control and condoms, be in a certain grade or out of school, etc.)? Knowing exactly where you stand helps you send clear messages during these conversations.
One of the ways you can encourage preteens to put off sex until they’re ready is by talking with them about their future goals and dreams, and what steps they plan on taking to achieve them. Then discuss how dealing with an unplanned pregnancy or STD might make those goals and dreams harder to achieve.
The average age that teens have sex for the first time is 18. So while your preteen probably isn’t going to start having sex for many years, it’s important to talk with pre-teens about how to prevent pregnancy and STDs so they can make responsible choices when they do become sexually active in the future. Around this age, you can start giving them honest, more detailed information about STDs and safer sex, pregnancy and birth control, masturbation, and most other aspects of sexuality — and they should know of at least 1 adult that they trust who they can come to with questions. Talking about this stuff will also help them see why they’re not ready to think about having sex just yet.
Masturbation is very normal and common among preteens. Most young children learn early on that touching their genitals feels good. As people go through puberty, masturbation becomes more intentional and attached to sexual feelings. This is all normal.
Thinking that masturbation is wrong or dirty can cause guilt, shame, and fear that can be emotionally unhealthy for people of all ages. So it’s important for your kids to know that masturbating is normal and harmless — as long as they do it in private. And you can let them know that it’s also perfectly fine to not masturbate if they don’t want to. It’s a personal choice, and either is normal.
This is a good age to start knocking before you go in your preteen’s room. If you do walk in on them masturbating, try to stay calm — you don’t want them to think they’ve done anything wrong. You can say “Sorry, I should have knocked,” and tell them later that you’ll be more careful about privacy in the future.
We all know that porn isn’t appropriate for preteens. It can be confusing or even upsetting to their still developing minds. Some pornography is violent and degrading, and can promote unhealthy ideas about sex, relationships, and gender. For all these reasons and more, it’s a good idea to use parental controls on TV, computers, tablets and phones. As much as possible, be aware of what your kid is seeing online and what sites they visit, and consider keeping your computer in a family area. These things can lower the chances that your preteen will come across porn where it’s easiest to find — online.
But the reality is a lot of young people do see pornographic images or videos. Often it’s an accident (like if they’re Googling something harmless and stumble on adult sites or ads). Other times, older preteens might seek out porn because they hear about it from their friends or they’re curious about sex.
If you find out your preteen has seen porn, try not to freak out or get mad. Ask them how they came across it — was it an accident? On purpose? Did someone send it to them? Ask them what they think about what they saw, and be clear about your expectations and values here.
If your kid has questions about porn, you can answer in simple terms. You can talk about how porn is for adults only and isn’t meant for kids. As they get older, you can talk about how sex in porn doesn’t usually reflect real life — the people onscreen are acting, and it’s not generally an accurate depiction of how sex really happens. For example, porn shows lots of sexual activity, but none of the consequences of sex (like STDs and pregnancy) that people have to deal with in real life. They also often leave out consent, which is an essential part of real life sex. And most people’s bodies don’t look like the bodies you see in porn.
Even though the vast majority of preteens aren’t sexually active, they’re old enough to learn how to protect themselves in the future. Teaching them about STDs and safer sex sets the expectation that they’ll make responsible choices when the time comes. It also shows that you care about them, and that they can come to you with any questions.
You can help your preteen stay healthy and even save their lives by giving them the real, honest facts about STDs and how to protect themselves. They should know that:
Another step you can take to help your child avoid a very common (and possibly dangerous) STD later in life is to make sure they get the HPV vaccine — both girls and boys should get it at age 11-12. It’s safe and can help prevent cervical and other kinds of cancer in the future.
Talking with kids about sexuality helps keep them healthy and makes your relationship stronger. There are many ways to start conversations about sex and sexuality, and it gets easier with time and practice.
Kids between the age of 5 to 8 need accurate and age-appropriate answers to their questions. The conversations you have now play a major role in helping your children develop healthy relationships as they grow. And showing your kids that you’re a trustworthy and nonjudgmental resource makes it easier to talk about more difficult topics when they’re older. It’s easier than it seems — just keep it simple and direct, look for teachable moments, and stick to having lots of small, casual conversations.
Kids have lots of questions. They need answers, but they don’t always need all the details. It’s important to be honest, accurate, and frank when answering your kids’ questions about sex, but that doesn’t mean you need to overwhelm them with lots of information. With younger kids, less is better — start with the simplest explanation, and only give them more details if they have other questions or seem really interested in what you’re talking about.
One way to guide the conversation is to find out what your child already knows or thinks, and what they’re really trying to find out. What seems like a straightforward question to adults could be different than what your kid actually wants to know.
For example, a child who asks, “Why do I have a penis?” might be wondering about why touching it feels good, or why their body looks different from their sister’s, or what part the penis plays in reproduction. To figure out what they’re really asking, you can say, “That’s a great question, what made you think of that?” or “Can you tell me what you already know about that?” or “What do you think the answer is?”
Talking with your kids about sexuality isn’t going to make them have sex earlier. Giving your kids age-appropriate information about sexuality won’t encourage unhealthy sexual development. In fact, research shows that children who talk with their parents and know more about this stuff are more likely to wait to have sex until they’re older and use birth control/condoms when they eventually do have sex.
You can answer their questions honestly while still explaining that sex is something only grownups do. For example, if they ask what the word sex means, you can say something like: “Sometimes when two grownups like each other, they want to kiss and touch each other’s bodies — especially their penis or vulva. What else do you want to know about?” At this age, kids might be fascinated with bodies and the concept of sex, but they usually just think it’s weird or gross.
Providing your kid with information that’s age-appropriate helps them develop a healthy attitude about this stuff as they grow up. It also makes it easier to talk with them about the more complicated aspects of sexual intimacy (like consent, safer sex, and healthy relationships) as they get older.
Plan to have lots of small, casual conversations and rely on teachable moments. Don’t worry if you haven’t started talking with your children about sexuality yet. It’s never too late. Just don’t try to catch up all at once. Many parents plan (or dread) “the big talk” for a long time, expecting to have one conversation that covers everything important all at once. But talking with children about sexuality works best as a lifelong conversation, so prepare to have many small conversations during their childhood, providing more information as they grow. Doing a little bit at a time makes it less overwhelming for both you and your kid.
Don’t stress too much about finding the perfect time to talk. Everyday life gives you lots of opportunities for talking about sexuality (like questions about their genitals during bath time, running into a pregnant neighbor, or seeing people talk about sex on TV). And they may hear stuff out in the world that makes them want to ask questions. These teachable moments pop up all the time, and help make your conversations easier and more natural.
The most important thing is being open, honest, and available when your kid wants to talk, and to encourage questions and learning when they’re ready. It’s normal for you to feel a little awkward during some of these talks, but remember that younger kids don’t always realize these topics are difficult for adults.
Having a negative reaction or refusing to answer sends the message that your child’s natural curiosity is bad, and that it’s not okay to come to you with questions — and this means they’ll seek out information from other sources like friends or the internet. So even if you feel flustered, try to keep calm and talk with them in a positive tone.
When talking to younger kids, it’s common for parents to frame sex only as “something grownups do when they want to have a baby.” Of course that is one big reason people have sex, and it’s good for your kids to understand how sex is related to pregnancy. But it’s okay and even good for kids to understand that grownups have sex for other reasons too, like for pleasure and to express love and feel closer to a partner.
It’s important for kids to know who the trusted adults are that they can come to with questions or concerns related to sexuality. On the flip side, teaching appropriate boundaries when it comes to talking about sex is important too. Let them know that while sex and bodies are natural and not shameful, they’re also private. This might mean not talking about this stuff at their friends’ houses because every house has different rules. This could also mean only talking about this stuff with adults you’ve both identified as trusted and safe. You can say something like, “I’m really glad you’re asking me these questions — you can ask me anything. Are there other people you think you could ask about this stuff if I wasn’t available?” What about your brother, Aunt Molly, or Dr. Jones? And who do we not talk to about private stuff?”
It’s super common for kids of all ages to touch their genitals. Most children figure out at an early age that their genitals are sensitive and touching them feels good.
How parents react to their kids touching themselves can send strong messages. Getting angry, slapping their hands away, or acting disgusted can cause shame and guilt that can negatively impact them as they grow older. It’s common to feel a little uncomfortable if you see your child masturbating, but try to stay calm and remember that it’s perfectly normal and healthy behavior.
While it’s important not to shame your child for touching their genitals, it’s also important to teach them healthy boundaries for themselves and others. Let them know that masturbation is private and not appropriate to do in front of other people. You can say, “I know that feels good and lots of people do it. But you should only touch yourself in private places — like your bedroom or the bathroom.”
Try not to freak out. It’s natural for you to be embarrassed, but ultimately it’s not harmful or damaging for your child to know that grownups have sex.
The best way to respond is to stay calm, be matter-of-fact, and talk with them about what happened later. In the moment, you can say something like, “We’re having private time. Can you please close the door and go play in your room?” It’s okay if you did happen to yell in the moment — but make sure you apologize later and explain that you were just startled, so your kid doesn’t feel like they did something horribly wrong.
When you talk later, start by asking them what they saw and if they have any questions. Younger kids might be worried that you were hurting each other or fighting, so reassure them that you’re all okay. They may be curious and have lots of questions, which is normal. A good basic message is that sex is a private thing that grownups do with each other to feel good together and express their love. You can explain that this kind of expression of love is different from the way parents and kids show affection. You can also talk about privacy and how they need to knock before coming into other people’s rooms.
How your child processes what happened depends on how old they are, how you react, and whether you’ve already had age-appropriate conversations about sex with them. Try to think of it as another opportunity to normalize sexuality and show that you’re willing to answer their questions.
Every time we had a sex talk back in high school, the coordinator would have a box where we would drop pieces of papers anonymously with questions to be answered at the end of the forum. Most of the questions that were asked are:
I know you might be thinking, these are just basic straight forward questions. Now that I am all grown up, I think these questions were real concerns for us because we had never been taught about sex.
The only basic thing was, “Do not have sex until you are married!” and “If you have sex you will get pregnant and your parents will be pissed!”
Lack of sex education- both by parents and in schools- is a major crisis that has major ripple effects through many parts of society.
Lack of sex education in schools has been identified as a major contributory factor to the high rate of teenage pregnancy and unsafe abortion in the country.
Believe it or not, every girl or boy ill one day has to make a life-changing decision about their sexual and reproductive health.
So imagine the gap that exists in the lack of knowledge that these young people require to make these kinds of decisions responsibly. This is why most of our young people are vulnerable to early pregnancies, coercion, and STI’s.
This is what we recommend. A Comprehensive Sexuality Education.
Comprehensive sexuality education is based on an approach that focusses on gender and rights.
Whether in school or at home, this kind of sex education is taught throughout the adolescent life, to every age group depending on information relevant to their ages.
There are various things you can cover.
First are facts about human anatomy, reproductive health, and human development. You can go deeper on topics like contraception, consent, sexually transmitted infections, HIV, and childbirth.
Apart from pumping the youth with information, it is good to nurture positive values regarding their sexual and reproductive health. Such values are based on relationships, culture, gender roles, sexual abuse, and human rights. It is what I refer to as holistic sexuality education.
With these kind of knowledge, our young people will develop skills like critical thinking, communication, responsible decision making, and self-esteem.
Talking to children about sex is not an easy task.
If you are keen on the news an social media, there have been so many cases of early pregnancies, sexual assault cases, kidnappings, deaths, and sexually transmitted diseases.
This means that the one talk you gave your children about the birds and the bees is not enough. You should have an ongoing talk frequently according to the age they are in.
Ideally, children will get all of the information they need at home from their parents, but school should also be an important source of information.
Here is why:
There has been a huge debate in the past about providing condoms in school and teaching contraception to teenagers.
It has been said that giving these options will make them promiscuous.
To be honest, teaching comprehensive sex education doesn’t have the downside most people are afraid of.
Providing these options does not encourage adolescents to start having sex earlier, it only helps them be safe in case they choose to have sex.
In this generation, they are already having sex at a very early age so it is good that they have safe sex.
There have been so many efforts to curb teenage pregnancies but you have seen how the numbers have risen recently especially during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Poverty is one of the primary causes of teenage pregnancies but so is a lack of sex education.
Immediately your child starts becoming eager and curious about their body, you should start educating them right there and continue throughout each stage of their lives.
Abstaining from sex before marriage is a tradition that the current generation does not hold in high regard.
As a parent, you have to accept this hard truth and talk to your children about protecting themselves, making informed decisions, and keeping healthier sexualities.
If you feel like “No! my child will abstain from sex”, which is admirable, you are still not exempted from teaching them about sex.
They too need sex education. If a child grows being well informed, he or she will be empowered by that information and will respect people’s opinions and sexualities.
Furthermore, your child will not source information from their peers or the internet. We all know these sources are not reliable because of misinformation.
Do you know why you hear teenagers having oral sex and anal sex instead of vaginal sex?
It is because they do not have accurate information about alternative sexual behaviors.
Young people think that oral sex is incompatible with abstinence because abstinence involves vaginal intercourse so they believe.
With a comprehensive sex education approach, teenagers will be more informed about participating in alternative sexual behaviors instead of falsely assuming these alternatives are safe.
If we do not teach sex education, we will have generations that are completely unequipped to advocate for their bodily autonomy and are extremely ashamed about any sexuality that they’ve experienced.
We will fail generations of women when we set them up to be hurt, and we failed those generations of men when we fed them toxic masculinity instead of teaching them about consent and pleasure for all bodies.
If we’re to move forward, we need to find a way to build systems that educate and protect. What Do you think?
Being a parent is compiled of so many firsts and big moments you look forward to with your children. One of them most parents do not look forward to is Sex Education. Most parents find this conversation very uncomfortable. Let’s face it, my generation really didn’t get much talks as our parent’s generation did not talk about Sex at all!! But in this generation, I am surprised that 10 year olds know about Sex and it’s not from our parents, but from the internet, movies and magazines.