Have you started talking to your kids about “the talk,” the birds and the bees, “the facts of life?” Talking about sex with your kid can be a dreaded thing that fills parents with anxiety. Heck…most adults aren’t comfortable talking about sex, so talking to your kids about sex can be a bit overwhelming.
How do you start this conversation? When do you bring it up? What do you tell your kids? What do you not tell them? But parents and caretakers can take a deep breath and relax. Talking to your kids about sex isn’t one big conversation, and it’s not just about the act of having sex.
Licensed Sex Therapist Emily Jamea, Ph.D, LMFT, LPC, wants parent to know that having the “talk” can range from simply naming body parts to puberty to consent to intercourse and all the things in between. She explains it’s more like an ongoing back and forth between kids and their caretakers that starts from birth.
When To Start Talking About Sex And What To Start With
Yes, these conversations should start as soon as infancy. Dr. Jamea explains that discussions about sex start when you begin helping your child identify body parts. And the great news is that parents tend to naturally point out basic body parts like eyes, mouth, knees, etcetera. But, parents often leave out what’s between the belly button and the legs, and kids need to become comfortable using anatomical names for all their body parts.
Dr. Jamea expresses, “As soon as they [kids] can identify an elbow, they can identify a vulva or a penis, and we need to use the anatomically correct names for all of the body parts.” She explains that when using little pet names or euphemisms for body parts, the underlying message is there’s something wrong or different, whereas using the anatomical names helps kids know there is no shame or stigma around body parts.
The fact is, kids are naturally curious. They will ask questions, and it’s okay to answer them honestly. Dr. Jamea shares, “They don’t need to hear anything about the stork that brought the baby. You can answer them completely honestly and confidently because there’s nothing to be ashamed of; it’s how they were brought into the world.” And some kids are fine with the basics, and some kids may need more details.
According to Dr. Jamea, the essential things to focus on for younger kids are using adequate terminology, teaching them privacy, and emphasizing boundaries. For example, let kids know that their genitalia is private and people shouldn’t touch them there. And boundaries can be taught by example. It can be as simple as you putting a stop to tickling them as soon as they ask to show that you respect that boundary.
Continue on at Scary Mommy to find out what you maybe missing in your talks with your kids.