Talking To Kids About Sexuality

Sooner or later, your child will ask you this dreaded question, “How are babies made?” Don'​t panic. Be glad that your child has come to you for information, rather than ask his/her friends or go online to find answers. In answering your child’s questions, you can educate him/her with the right knowledge and values.​

When to Start? 

From an early age, children are curious about sexuality. 

Studies have shown that children who talk to their parents about sexuality issues are less likely to engage in risky sexual activities than those who do not do so. 

​​​So don’t ​be afraid to talk to your child about sex. Sexuality education is an ongoing process. ​​

How to Start? 

1. Be prepared 

What are your own attitudes towards sexuality issues? What values do you want to impart to your child? Ask family and friends about how they spoke to their children about sexuality. Read up. It is easier to talk about something that you are confident about. If you feel uncomfortable talking to your child about the issue of sexuality, admit it. However, do let your child know why you are not comfortable talking about it. Let him know that you will overcome this discomfort by addressing this issue together with him.​

2. Say it simply 

Teach your toddler to use proper terms such as “penis” and “vagina” when naming parts of the body. Picture books about the body can help you along. And when your child is in preschool, talk to them about where babies come from.​

3. Keep it going 

Engage your child during “teachable moments”. For instance, when you meet a pregnant lady at the shopping mall, use this opportunity to talk to your child about pregnancy and sexuality. Your child may continue to ask you more questions. Answer your child’s question. Get the facts right, be open and honest. There is no need to venture into the history and intricate mechanisms of sexuality at this point. If your child wants to know more, he/she will ask. This will send a message to your child that sexuality is not a taboo topic, and he/she can discuss it openly with you.​ ​

How to Prepare? 

  • Discuss with your spouse what to teach your child about sexuality. 
  • Be prepared with answers. If your child’s question stumps you, tell him that you need to read up and will get back to him — do not forget to do so. 
  • Keep your answers simple. 
  • Anticipate “teachable moments” and use them to communicate your family’s values and beliefs.​​​

​​​The Right Touch 

Teach your child what is a “good touch” and “bad touch”. It is fine to hug and kiss people whom your child knows and loves (and for your child to be hugged and kissed in return by them). 
It is important, however, for your child to know what to do if: 

1. Your child feels uncomfortable about the way someone is touching them. 

For example, when someone touches the child's genitals or forces the child to give a hug.​

2. Your child is warned never to tell anyone about the encounter. 

Tell your child that he does not have to blindly follow whatever an adult says, even if the person is a family member. Tell your child: “It is wrong for a grown-up to ask you to lie or steal. It is wrong for a grown-up to ask you to touch his genitals.” 

3. Your child is forced to touch another person. 

A “bad touch” may refer to touching any area that the child may not be comfortable with, not just the genitalia. For example, caressing a child’s back or playfully slapping his/her bottom.​

If any of the above happens and makes your child feel uncomfortable, teach him/her to do the following: 
  • Say “NO!” and get away as quickly as possible. Do not be alone with that person again. 
  • Scream for help. 
  • Inform an adult whom your child trusts, such as his/her parents or a teacher. ​

Anticipate “teachable moments” and use them to communicate your family’s values and beliefs.​

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