Talking about sex is considered to be a taboo in India. However, owing to the current situation among children especially teenagers, sex education for children is being considered important. So much so, that sex education has been considered to be a necessity among infants and pre-schoolers too.
Importance of Sex Education for Kids
There have been various debates and discussions on the importance of sex education and if it should be a part of the curriculum in schools. Some have been against it but most having understood the importance of it, have given it a green signal. The process of sex education among kids teaches them about sexuality, their body changes and all that they should know before the onset of puberty. It is a sensitive topic and care should be taken while talking to children about it. Just as it can teach many important things about their body, it can also mislead them. Therefore, the things discussed should be age appropriate.
Pre-schoolers do not have much of sex-related queries. It is the older children that have questions about “the birds and the bees”. Here is a list of common questions that your child may ask.
1. How are Babies Made?
Instead of telling your 5-year old that you bought her from the shop at the hospital, just give a truthful answer. Tell her that when something called a sperm from daddy’s body and an egg from mama’s body meets it develops into a baby over a period of time.
2. What is Safe Sex?
If your child asks you this question feel lucky. Pounce on the opportunity to tell her what can happen if a girl has sexual intercourse with a boy without any safety measures like contraceptives or condoms. You can explain that one can also get sexually transmitted diseases like HIV which could be fatal if precaution is not taken.
3. What does Menstrual Cycle Mean?
The menstrual cycle is an important topic that every parent should explain to their child. Tell your child that it is a monthly cycle that starts once a girl attains the age of puberty. During this period, a girl has vaginal bleeding and can suffer stomach cramps and some physical discomfort.
4. What is Puberty?
Puberty should be discussed before your child attains it. She should be told that different people may attain puberty at a different age. Explain all the changes that boys, as well as girls, go through on attaining puberty.
5. Will I get Pregnant if I Kiss a Boy?
This is a common question in the minds of children that arise from myths. Whenever your child asks this question, you should explain that kissing a boy cannot make her pregnant. Explain to her that a girl may get pregnant only when her egg fertilizes after coming in contact with a sperm ejaculated by the boy during sexual intercourse.
6. If My Hymen Ruptures during Cycling or while Playing will I Lose My Virginity?
This is a common myth that needs to be debunked. Tell your child that people lose virginity only after sexual intercourse. One does not lose her virginity merely because her hymen has ruptured while playing or cycling.
Tips for Talking to Kids about Sex
Listed below are some tips to follow while talking to children about sex.
Do not panic if your child asks you anything pertaining to sex. Your child asking about sex does not necessarily mean that she is sexually active or wants to be so. On the contrary, you should feel lucky that she feels comfortable talking about it with you. Be sure not to evade the question but answer it honestly without a hitch. Provide only accurate information to your child. In case you do not know something you must be honest enough to tell her so and work towards finding the necessary information. However, before answering, ask her to explain why she wants to know or the reason behind her curiosity.
Ask Questions and Listen
Get ready to brace yourself to listen to what your child tells you. Instead of instructing, ask questions after listening to “what do you think about that?” or “how does it make you feel?” If she tells something regarding a friend, ask your child whether she is worried about her. Ask her how would she behave in such a given situation?
Use Correct Terms for Body Parts
We usually use cute terms to refer a child’s private parts. Using euphemisms for private parts can lead her to think that it is dirty to refer private parts by their correct terms. It may also make them ashamed of their body parts later on.
You should refrain from talking negatively about sexuality while talking to your child. These early life conversations will remain etched in your child’s memory decades later when she turns into an adult. A positive message from you will go a long way in forming a positive approach when your child grows up. However, while sharing the good side of it, remember to tell her the potential risks and dangers of sexually transmitted diseases and unwanted pregnancy associated with it, if precaution is not taken.
Always share the true information. In case of myths like kissing a boy or holding hands may get her pregnant, you must debunk them.
Talking to Kids about Sex According to Their Age
Have you ever wondered how to talk to children about sex? Although talking about it openly is considered to be a taboo in many countries around the world but teaching children about sex is gaining importance these days.
1. Age: 0 to 2
In this age group, teach your child the correct name of body parts from her infancy days without giggling or making them sound funny. Always refrain from using euphemisms instead of the correct names of the private body parts. Start talking about private parts from the age of 2 onwards so that they become familiar with them over a period of time. Tell her which are the private parts of the body and why is it termed as “private”. Toddlers love being naked. However, you must explain and tell her why it is not okay to show or touch private parts in public.
2. Age 3 to 5
This is the phase when a child starts getting to know her body. Once your child starts pre-school, she will learn about gender and get curious to know what the difference between a boy and girl is. Out of curiosity, she may even touch her own or show interest in other children’s private parts. However, do not panic when you see your little one doing so. Calmly explain to her that it is not correct to do so and redirect her attention to some toy or other activity. Explain to her that she should not allow anyone to touch her private parts except for a doctor or a nurse while physical examination or her own parents in order to treat or trace a pain in the private area. You can teach your child about her private parts during bath time or superficially explain about pregnancy if you or anyone your child knows is expecting. However, be truthful while answering.
3. Age: 6 to 9
At this age, your child probably knows more about body parts than when she was a toddler or an infant. You should start teaching your child how to protect herself from sexual abuse. Teach her that although it is important to cover herself up while in public, nothing in her body is shameful. It is mandatory to teach her to how to take a bath, especially, clean her private parts all by herself. Also, explain the importance of doing so.
4. Age: 10 to 12
A child becomes either too shy talking about sex-related topics or may become more curious to know about it during this phase. Gearing up your child for puberty by telling her about the hormonal, emotional, physical changes is important. For example, you can talk to your girl child about the menstrual cycle. This will not scare her or get her panicky when she experiences her first period. This will also prepare her for the regular stomach cramps or body discomforts that are common during the monthly cycle. Warn your child about porn and its repercussions. Let her know that you are always open to discussions on puberty, sex-related topics or anything that she comes across through magazines, books, and internet or even through her peers.
Sex education provides children with information that is required to understand their bodies in a positive way. Since sex education should ideally start at home, parents should let go all their inhibitions and aim at nurturing a child with not just a healthy body but a healthy mind too.
Also read: 10 Moral Values You Must Teach Your Kids