When should you first talk to your child about sex?

By Drum Digital
22 April 2014

When is it best to speak to your child about sex

They’re not old enough to know their ABCs, yet children as young as five could soon be learning about masturbation at school. This is recommended in the draft of controversial new guidelines on sex education by the United Nations’ Educational, Scientific and Cultural Organisation (Unesco) circulated to governments and education bodies around the world.

However, Johannesburg-based child psychologist Cristine Scolari recommends parents play it by ear. “Generally the best time to have the talk is when children ask a question about sex.” A three-year-old may ask where babies come from and from there you start the conversation in an age-appropriate manner.

How to approach the topic:

Remain calm so the child doesn’t think they did or said something wrong.

It’s natural for parents to feel embarrassed about talking about sex but it’s vital you do. The more you talk to your child about sex the less likely your children will be prone to engage in problematic or inappropriate sexual behaviour when they’re older

Usually children will pick up a lot from school; listen to them when they’re talking. Be open to discussing the topic of sex and don’t give them the message sex is taboo.

Use cues from their environment. For example, if an older child hears about an item on the news such as sexual abuse it will be beneficial to talk about sex – what it is and what it isn’t.

It helps to have books about sexual education; there are some excellent ones which broach the subject appropriately.

-          SuperMom

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