Teach your kids about sex

Some parents fear that their children will use their knowledge about sex to participate in sexual play resulting in promiscuity. But the normal young child lacks a sexual appetite and therefore lacks the desire to be sexually active.

Some parents are also afraid that the sex-educated child might lose his innocence. A far greater risk exists when children lose their innocence via sexual education or physical exploration with friends or being a victim of another child's problematic sexual behaviour. Parents are concerned that the child might be shocked with details about sex. The risk of being shocked with detail about sex lies with sex education via friends or the media or without the appropriate moral perspective of the parents.

Some also don't want to warn their children about molestation because they think it will frighten their children or will cause mistrust inchildren. They want their children to believe that the world is a wonderful place where sexual crimes don't exist.

Molestation and problematic sexual behaviour in children is a reality and does not go away by ignoring it.

Most parents were not sex educated by their parents, and lack a role model. With the best intentions they wait for the first question on sex, but often the first question is the result of incorrect information the child has already received from friends. This incorrect information is usually shared after sworn secrecy not to tell the parent. For this reason, the long awaited first question never gets asked. The more the parent avoids the topic, the more it conveys the message that the parent does not want to talk about sex. If you don't have the courage to be the first one to talk about sex, how can you expect your child to initiate the conversation?

It's important to sex educate very young children

There are many valid reasons why it is vitally important to sex educate our very young children.

1. Research shows that children who are sex educated and receive sexual boundaries are less promiscuous when compared to their friends who have no sexual boundaries or sex education.

2. Because of their nature children will explore sexually. They will touch and stimulate themselves and ask their friends to join them in their sensual and exploring activity. For this reason, it is part of a parents' responsibility to teach sexual boundaries and sexual manners. Sex education from the parents also satisfies the curiosity of the child and eliminates the forbidden aspect of sex. The urge to gain more information via friends is limited by sex education by the parent. Knowing about sex not only limits the degree of sexual experimentation and promiscuity but can prevent sexual molestation to a large extent. Children get involved in forbidden sexual acts because of their sexual ignorance, lack of sexual boundaries and their curiosity about sex that has not been satisfied.

3. It has become the norm to send young children to play groups, nursery school and aftercare centres. These children have different value systems and different degrees of exposure, experimentation and knowledge about sex. Your child is therefore exposed to different levels of sex education and exploration that are shared and practiced amongst friends. Some will be properly sex educated by parents, some incorrectly by friends and older siblings, and some get sex educated via the media. They watch erotic TV programs or look at erotic books that they have discovered at home or at friends' houses. The latter will give the child cognitive distortions regarding sex, which they will share with the peer group.

4. Child molestation is on the increase. Children without sexual boundaries who are in an environment where there is a lack of adequate supervision could get involved in problematic sexual behaviour. The child who is exposed to a sexualised atmosphere at home, or who is emotionally abused or neglected can act out problematic sexual behaviour. A child showing signs of problematic sexual behaviour is of great concern because their victims are other children at school. A victim could become a perpetrator, which results in a vicious cycle of sexual misbehaviour. Parents need to protect their children against molestation by peers, older children and adults. By being an informed parent/child team, you can prevent a tragedy.

5. Most children are exposed to television, adverts, magazines and movies that provide the child with inaccurate information regarding sexuality. It is the parents' responsibility to teach the correct information and to put sex education into the parents own value perspective. When the parent and child watch inappropriate behaviour on television, rather define the correct behaviour and discuss the values portrayed and the meaning of the message presented on television. By ignoring the message on sex that the media reflects you convey the message of agreement. It is important to realise that young children want to learn from their parents. Use this opportunity. When the communication channels are open you can monitor the new facts and impressions your children pick up in their environment. You will be surprised at the misconceptions, but you will have the opportunity to provide them with the correct information. The parent should be molding their children's perception of sex before society does.

How did you handle the 'big sex discussion' with your child?

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