How to get chatting about the birds and the bees

2010-09-18 10:57

Talking to children about sex is as delicate an operation as brain surgery – and just as daunting for a novice.

According to the head of loveLife’s national call centre, Bernadette Robertson, “talking openly about the topic encourages young people to engage actively with sexual issues in order to obtain information and personalise and internalise risks”.

Robertson adds: “Studies dispelled the ­notion that talking with children about sex increases promiscuity.

In fact, failing to talk about physical relationships, sex and sexuality places children at greater risk of HIV infection or teenage pregnancy.”

However, she believes that despite this, many parents remain “too embarrassed to talk about sex” or are insecure.

She offers the following tips to parents on how to openly communicate with children:
» Create an open environment because your child will more likely respond to you in a loving environment. If you shout, scream or use abusive language, your child will likely respond in a similar manner.

» Really listen to your child if you want to build a lasting relationship. Listening means not interrupting, taking turns to speak and respecting their point of view.

» Use your body language to effectively communicate. Maintain eye contact, smile lovingly and turn your body towards them in order to show they have your full attention.

» Use proper words instead of slang when speaking about sex, drugs, STIs and HIV/Aids. Slang can confuse and lead to further embarrassment. Use correct words to describe body parts such as penis, vagina and breasts.

»?Don’t only talk about sex, talk to your child about their hopes, aspirations and dreams. Have fun with them.

»?Be consistent in the messages that you convey. Don’t give one message one day and another the next as it will undermine your credibility.

»?Don’t give up. Relationships, trust and confidence come with time. Even if your child is not listening or looks disinterested, persevere in a loving manner.

“We are all trying to raise children in an environment where they are at an unparalleled risk of HIV infection, drugs, violence and of course risky sexual behaviour. Lean on other parents for support and shared guidance,” concludes Robertson. 


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