Unfortunately, real or perceived debates have kept schools from providing children with essential knowledge and skills required to become sexually healthy adults. Just like other topics covered in school, sex education should be developmentally appropriate, chronological and complete.
Quality sex education should commence early. Elementary school students need to learn the proper names for their body parts, the difference between good touch and bad touch, and ways in which they can be a good friend. Fourth and fifth grade students need information about puberty and their changing bodies, internet safety, and the harmful impact of bullying. Seventh, eighth and ninth grade students are ready for information about body image, reproduction, abstinence, contraception, HIV and disease prevention, communication, and the topic they most want to learn about: healthy relationships.
For parents, sex education is a topic they often avoid. And if you have a young child, discussing sex may become troublesome if you keep avoiding it. Hence, Let your child set the pace with his or her questions.
Setting the trend early is the key
As children learn to walk and talk, they also begin to learn about their bodies. Be open to educate them about proper names of his or her sex organs
. If your child points to a body part, simply tell him or her what it is.
When your child starts questioning about his or her body, don’t get embarrassed. Face the questions and answer them properly in order to educate your child.
Many small children express their natural sexual curiosity through self-stimulation. Boys may pull at their penises, and girls may rub their genitals. Teach your child that masturbation
is a normal, but a private activity.
Sometimes, frequent masturbation can indicate a problem in a child's life. Perhaps he/she feels anxious or isn't receiving enough attention at home. It can even be a sign of sexual abuse. Teach your child that no one is allowed to touch the private parts of his or her body without permission. If you're concerned about your child's behaviour
, consult a doctor.
Give examples to provide sex education
Sex education is not a one-day discussion. Grab the everyday opportunities to discuss sex and related topics. For instance, if there is a pregnancy
in the family, tell your child that babies grow in a special place inside the mother. If your child wants more details on how the baby got there or how the baby will be born, offer them. Give examples such as:
How do babies get inside a mother’s womb?
You might say, "A mom and a dad make a baby by holding each other in a special way."
How are babies born?
For some children, it might be enough to say, "Doctors and nurses help babies who are ready to be born." If your child wants more details, you might say, "Usually a mom pushes the baby out of her vagina
Why doesn't everyone have a penis?
Try a simple explanation, such as, "Boys and girls bodies are made differently."
Why do you have hair down there?
Simplicity often works here, too. You might say, "Our bodies change as we get older." If your child wants more details, add, "Boys grow hair near their penises, and girls grow hair near their vaginas."
By age 3 or 4, children often realize that boys and girls have different genitals
. As your child matures and asks more-detailed questions, you can provide more-detailed responses. Answer specific questions using correct terminology. Even if you're uncomfortable, forge ahead. Remember, you're setting the stage for open, honest discussions in the years to come.