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What my kids need to know about sex according to their age

4 min read

When it comes to sex education, parents usually have many questions. How should I start? What do I say? When should I say it?

Sex education has changed since we were kids. You simply cannot teach sex education with a big talk (even if you think you have covered all topics about sex education). Today it is about lots of small, frequent, repetitive conversations with your child.

So why do you need to talk to your kids about all this topics?

Firstly, your kids are going to hear about sex, from their friends, from surfing the internet, and by watching the television. By getting in first, you are making sure that they receive the right information and more importantly, that they know how you feel about it.

Secondly, is that you are actually influencing what your kids will one day do about sex. Kids that receive good sex education are more likely to delay having sex and when they do start, they are more likely to avoid unwanted pregnancies, and sexually transmitted infections.

Here you will find an outline of the different things about sex that kids eventually need to know about. The topics and ages are just a guide, and are based on what we know about child sexual development, and in keeping our kids healthy and safe in our world today.

Babies and toddlers (2 years)

  • The names of their body parts- yes, the penis and vulva too!
  • That it is okay if they touch all parts of their body – let them grab their vulva or penis at bath time or during nappy changes.
  • Start pointing out the differences between boys and girls, tell them that boys have penises and girls have vulvas.
  • Tell them  about the functions of our body parts – urine comes out through your penis/vulva, poo comes out through your bottom/anus (and it is okay to use appropriate slang, but not all of the time).
  • If they like being naked all the time, let them know that there is boundaries about nudity – there is a time and a place to be naked (and it isn’t at the park!).

Give them the support they need.

Technically, it isn’t really sex education at this time and age. It is really just about letting your children explore their whole body and to start pointing out simple differences between boys and girls. When naming the parts of their bodies you can also include their penis or vulva and also talk about what they can do – ‘of cause, that is your penis and your (urine) comes out of there. The end goal is for your child to be comfortable with their whole body and to see all parts as being equal (without shame).

Early childhood (2-5 years)

Our bodies
  • The correct names of the body parts and their functions.
  • That boys and girls are different but are also the same – girls usually have a vulva, boys usually have a penis but we all have nipples, bottoms, noses, hands, etc.
  • That our bodies are different and that is okay to be different.
  • That our bodies can tell us what we are feeling – we have many different kind of feelings and we can feel them in our body.
Talk to them abut Privacy
  • That some parts of the body are private -these aren’t for every body to see.
  • That there are private and public places and times – this one is a tricky one for kids to learn as it changes. For example, it might be okay for your child to be naked at home when their grandmother is visiting but not your neighbor!
  • To respect other people’s privacy. For example, if the bathroom door is closed, that they should knock and ask if they can enter.
  • That they are entitled to privacy too – like when they go to the restroom, are in the bathroom or dressing room.
  • That conversations about bodies are for private times, or friends at home and with their parents (not in the school yard).
Touching themselves
  • let them know that it is okay to touch their penis or vulva but that there is a time and a place for it.
  • you should set limits around genital play. Explain that touching your own genitals can feel good but that it is a private activity, like toileting, and it should happen in a private place, like in their bedroom.
  • If your child grabs their genitals when they are out socially, gently remind them that they need to keep their hands out of their pants. Don’t make a big fuss as they are doing it because it makes them feel more secure. Eventually they will outgrow it!
  • If found playing  with a friend (looking at each other’s genitals), take a deep breath, calmly interrupt them, change their topic, try  to  dressed for them and distract them into another toy or game. Later on, you can discuss privacy and rules about touching with them.
Teach Babies
  • That all living things reproduce- trees drop seeds, animals have babies. Slowly start pointing out examples of reproduction when you see them.
  • A baby grows inside the woman’s  uterus or baby bag or even tummy.
  • Both a man and a woman are needed to make a baby.
  • How a baby is made is that you need a part from a man (cell) and a part from a woman (egg) to make a baby. ‘Where do I come from’ is usually the first question kids ask.
  • Teach them that a baby grows inside a woman. Keep it super simple that they only want basic concepts. The details come much after.
  • If your child now want to know how the baby comes out, just explain that it comes out of the woman’s stomach or through her vagina, they will definitely ask you that what is the meaning of vagina…..?

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