Sex Talk Dos and Don'ts

Parents are the most critical people in a child’s life and affect their sexual development. The sex talk should be an ongoing dialogue throughout the child’s life, helping them make sense of their feelings. Dr. Phil and Dr. John Chirban, author of How to Talk with Your Kids about Sex, give the following tips:

Sex Talk Dos:

  • Do stay relaxed
  • Do express your feelings and hear your child’s feelings about your talk
  • Do have child explain what he/she has learned/knows about sex
  • Do empower child with accurate information
  • Do listen
  • Do explain sexual choices, feelings and actions
  • Do provide loving, caring interactions (tickle, hug, kiss)
  • Do support body exploration, especially during hygiene and toilet training
  • Do monitor social exposure and models — from TV to personal contacts

Sex Talk Don’ts:

  • Don’t be judgmental or criticize
  • Don’t compare your child with others
  • Don’t violate confidences unless adolescent at risk
  • Don’t be evasive or avoid certain questions
  • Don’t shame because of what child does or says sexually
  • Don’t reference what child does sexually as “funny” or “bad”
  • Don’t project adult behaviors onto infant

Ages 0-3:

  • Kids at this age begin to explore their bodies physically. As a parent, you should call the body part what it is: “penis,” “vagina.” You do not want to use nicknames for private parts. You want to be clear as a parent, and use the proper anatomy names.
  • Parents should not judge their children in a negative way because they are curious about their bodies. You don’t want to make the child feel shameful.

Ages 4-5:

  • Kids will start to ask questions about sex, and parents should tell their children that the mommy has a uterus and that’s where a baby starts to grow.

Ages 6-8:

  • Parents should talk about some of the realities of puberty and what body changes will occur in boys and girls.
  • Basic sex education is occurring and parents should say that the penis enters the vagina.
  • Don’t avoid conversations that refer to sex.

Ages 9-11:

  • Parents continue to talk to their kids about sex, and introduce the topic of sexual intercourse.
  • Sexuality is a form of pleasure. They will begin to form romantic feelings, crushes, and as a parent, you don’t want to dismiss them.
  • You don’t want to criticize your child or make them feel uncomfortable for having these feelings.

Ages 12-14:

  • Children need to be clear about their body, and develop a healthy acceptance of it.
  • Parents need to help them overcome the changes and fears with sex.

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