Talking about the birds and the bees


Many parents feel anxious and uncertain about educating their child about sex. When’s the right time and how should you go about it?

The time to introduce the subject of sex is when a child starts asking about his private parts. By talking to your children in a developmentally appropriate way, you remove the taint of taboo.

Consider using a children’s book on sexuality to guide you through the tougher topics.

The goal is to inform and protect your children while making them feel good — not ashamed — of their bodies.

Children need to understand from the time that they’re very young that no-one is allowed to touch their private parts unless Mommy or Daddy says it’s okay (at the doctor, for example). Let your child know that he must tell a trusted adult about any such touching. Kids sometimes play “Doctor” or “I’ll-show-you-mine-if-you-show-me-yours” — which is common because children are naturally curious about each other’s bodies. But let them know in a gentle way that other forms of play are better because they respect everyone’s privacy.

Safe surfing and cellphone use
Kids have to know that when they surf the Internet, they shouldn’t “talk” to strangers online any more than they would if a stranger approached them on the street. Take action to limit your young child’s exposure to inappropriate sexual messages.

Help at hand

  • Monitor the television shows and movies your kids watch so they don’t become overstimulated and desensitised to sexual acts.
  • Keep any erotic tapes, magazines and books out of little ones’ reach.
  • Set PG controls on your TV.

Beyond the birds and bees
Though schools often include sex education in the curriculum, parents, too, should be involved with educating their children about these issues of physical health, and about the moral aspects of sexual behaviour. Prepare your middle school-aged kids for puberty so they’re not caught with their proverbial pants down — offer your child the information in small doses rather than in one “big talk.”

Your pre-teen son should know that:
His penis and testicles will start to increase in size and his scrotum will change colour. His erections will become more frequent during puberty, and he may have nocturnal emissions, or wet dreams. He may experience a growth spurt and his voice will begin to change.

Your daughter should know by around age nine that:
She will get her period at some point, a change that means she can become pregnant. Her body, including her breasts, will be developing and could change more slowly or quickly than her friends.

Whether you have a son or daughter, both parents should be involved in talking with them about sex, to provide both a man’s and woman’s perspective.

They may do it anyway
Teach your kids, that not having sex is the only way to guard 100 percent against pregnancy, as well as AIDS and other sexually transmitted infections. Get across to your kids that they should come to you or another trusted adult if they’re considering intercourse. But know that not all kids will inform their parents of their sexual intentions.

Worried that teaching your kids about condoms for safer sex will give them the message that you condone premarital intercourse? Your morals matter, but be sure not to bury your head in the sand. It’s better for them to be informed on every possible scenario.

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