Parents expect young children to understand complicated tasks and concepts, but are convinced that they are not capable of understanding the biological process of sex. But really, sex education is just another lesson in shapes and sizes.
- Sex education starts by explaining the
biological process. You can use my example for a five to six year old
child e.g. "When Mom and Dad (or the parent and the significant other
person) are alone in our bed, Dad puts his erected penis in Mom's
vagina. Erected means that a supply of blood has flown into the penis
to make it stiff so that it can fit into the vagina. The penis has
semen which flows out of the penis inside Mom's vagina. The semen swim
to Mom's tubes and clusters around the ovum. Here only one sperm enters
the ovum and fertilisation takes place. Fertilise means to make a new
life." You can leave out some of the detail when educating a three or
four year old child.
- It is best to use appropriate
and explicitly illustrated pictures. Be clear and direct. Never avoid a
question by ignoring it. Even when you assume the answer is
inappropriate for the age of the child, answer the question correctly.
The golden rule is to give the correct information and to satisfy the
curiosity of the child. If you don't give them the answer,they will
turn to friends for an answer. You will also discourage them from
coming back to you for more information. Remember to talk as long as
they seem interested and quit when they seem disinterested.
on human beings is vital. Using non-human examples can de-personalise
sex. Human sex loses its emotional meaning as an expression of
committed love when compared to sex between animals. Using an example of
your dog will put you in a tight spot when the child observes the dog
having sex when, where, how and with any dog it wants to. Explain that
sex between animals is a natural consequence of a response to an
instinct. Because humans have brains, we have a choice - the choice to
have consenting sex in a mature, committed relationship.
attitude towards sex will determine whether your sex education is
successful or not. Children need to know that their parents have a
positive, natural sexual relationship. If children have the impression
that parents only have sex to make babies, they will go to their
friends, who seem to be better informed, for answers. After all, if you
had sex only once or twice, you are not in a position to teach others
about sex. If parents' sexuality is a taboo subject, you also
communicate that sex is secretive and something to be ashamed of.
is very important that children call their genitals by the correct
names. Females have a vulva. The vagina is the opening leading to the
internal sex organs. Males have a penis and testicles. Because children
will be exposed to these terms, it is important that they know the
meaning. It limits misunderstandings when children refer to their
genitals by using the universal term. The reason why parents give
nicknames to genitals is because they feel embarrassed about it. This
message about embarrassment is reflected to the child. You don't give
nicknames to a leg or an arm. Why give nicknames to genitals? Many
parents say that the biological terminology sounds foreign. But it does
not take long to get used to it. Soon the nicknames will sound silly to
you. Adolescents give crude names to genitals because the real names
sound foreign to them and the original nicknames don't sound appropriate
anymore. These children will embarrass their parents and friends of the
opposite sex when they use crude names to describe their genitals.
your child about sex at the right time is vitally important. Don' try
to get the job done when your child is not focused and you don't have
complete attention. The perfect timing could be when they ask questions
about a pregnant woman. If this question gets asked in a public place,
explain to your child that you will discuss it when you are at home in
private. The right timing could also be when they notice the blood of a
mother's period or ask about tampons. You can explain the process of
menstruation to a young child. It is an old wives tale that children
can't be taught these facts. Lying about menstruation and tampons can
harm your child when they realise that you tell lies. Menstruation can
be explained telling the child that the ovary releases an egg
every month. The unfertilised egg will be released via the vagina with
some blood. Even the erected penis of an animal does not go by
unnoticed. Turn it into an opportunity to explain what a penis looks
like before entering the vagina.
- It is important to
reinforce sex education because the message seldom gets through the
first time. Children like repetition. They never get tired of their
favourite story. Keep sex education interesting by using appropriate
drawings, pictures or cartoons. You will notice that they don't get
tired listening to the fascinating process.
to put sex in your own moral context. It helps to explain the emotional
meaning of sex. You can tell them that sex keeps a couple together and
that it is shared with someone you love and are committed to. But too
many moral lectures can bore children and should be avoided. Teach them
about sex, give them sexual boundaries and communicate what you expect
from them. Validate each sexual rule or boundary by giving a logical
explanation. A young child doesn't need much convincing. Mention that
you can get infected by sexually transmitted diseases when sex or
sexual games are practiced outside appropriate boundaries. Educate your
child on sex, body privacy, sexual boundaries and the social norms of
- It is important to sex educate your
children even if they don't ask questions. The reason why your child is
not asking is because of your attitude on the subject. Parents who want
to delay sex education argue that their children are not ready for
it. But it is the parent who is not ready to talk about sex.
Children, regardless of their age, are ready to be taught the basics of
- The basic rule of sex education is that it is a continuing process. You start by introducing the basics and take it further depending on the questions or the age of the child. Many parents ask when should they teach their children about homosexuality or anal sex. My advice is to follow the development of the conversation. When a child notices a homosexual couple on television or in public, they might ask whether the couple are in love and if it is possible for them to have sex and children. Answer these questions accurately.
It is true that many children are shy when their parents introduce sex education to them. These children have already been sex educated by peers.Children get the idea from their peers that sex is a taboo subject.They get the feeling that it is a secret of grown ups.Children learn dirty words from peers and start sharing dirty jokes about sex. This contributes to their feeling of shyness and embarrassment when parents talk to them about sex. Even when you introduce sex education late, don't despair. Start now and keep going.- (Joan Campbell, Private Social Worker)