How/when do I talk to my kid about sex?
Someone asked us:
Do you have any recommendations on what age it’s appropriate to talk to your child about each different part of reproduction, puberty, sex, gender identity, masturbation, different types of sex, and all that. I’m trying to go by what I’m asked but I’m not really sure when to keep talking beyond the basic question and when I’m in danger of overwhelming my child with too much information that they aren’t ready for. Thanks for your help!
Great question! As you and every other parent has probably noticed, talking with children about sexuality is a lifelong conversation. Doing it a little bit at a time helps keeps children — and their parents — from feeling overwhelmed.
Like voting, sex talks should happen early and often. Children are curious about their bodies and about different kinds of relationships almost as soon as they start noticing them. For young children, you can start by teaching them the names of their body parts. Their questions create a natural opportunity to start building a respectful and trusting relationship that can last through their teens.
And when we talk to our kids about sex-related stuff, it’s important to keep the conversation age appropriate. For example, when my daughter was three she asked me how she was born, and I told her that she came out of my body. She was in the bathtub and she laughed for five minutes straight when I told her this, but I think she got the message. When she asked me the same question at age six I gave her more detail, beginning with, “After nine months of growing inside my uterus, you came out through my vagina …”
Our kids have various reasons for asking us questions about sex and sexuality. They may just be curious, they may need help making a decision, or they may need to be reassured that they’re “normal.” And no matter how surprising their questions may be, kids always need honest, factual answers.
-Amy at Planned Parenthood