How to Have the Sex Talk with Your Kids

It can genuinely be really tough to start a dialogue about sex and sexuality with your children. Instead of becoming embarrassed or overwhelmed by this subject, simply follow these steps and you’ll be confidently conversing with your kids in no time.

Generic 1960s pic of a father and son scene.

Decide How You Feel About Sex

No matter what you believe in or feel comfortable with, it is best to figure out where you stand in regards to sex and sex education before delving into a teaching position with your child. Before you give the sex talk, you may need to do a little soul searching and introspection about your own attitudes about sex and sexuality. It is important to communicate your values about sex and sexual behavior to your children, so knowing precisely what those are beforehand can be a major help in the process.

Begin at a Young Age

When you teach your children about the parts of their body, such as, “These are your ears and these are your knees,” incorporate their genitalia into this identification process. This is a good time to teach them what their genitals are called, whether they have a penis or a vagina.

Continue to Give Age-Appropriate Information

As they grow and get older, your kids can learn more specifics about their own body and the bodies of their opposite gender.  When they become more aware of gender differences, you can explain the effects of gender hormones to them (estrogen and testosterone). Use these hormones as a means to explore why bodies change over time, such as breast development and body hair growth.

Initiate a Reproductive Discussion

No matter whether you have a boy or a girl, if your child has yet to ask about where babies come from, casually point out a pregnant woman to your kid the next time you’re out. Let them know that there is a baby growing inside of her and ask your child if they know how the baby got inside of her. This will spark the all important pregnancy talk.

Dealing With Puberty

It is vital to pass on information about puberty way before it begins. For girls, tell them about what to expect when they begin their period. For boys, bring up their soon to be changing voice and sporadic erections. Talking these things out before they begin is a great way to reduce their anxiety and confusion regarding their changing bodies.

Don’t Dismiss the Emotional Aspects

It is really important to teach your kids about the maturity, responsibilities, love and caring that go along with having sex. When they know about the feelings that go along with sex, they may be less likely to give into peer pressure, because they won’t want to get hurt or to hurt someone else’s feelings. Tell them about the things that come before sex, like dating, snuggling, hand holding and kissing. Let them know that sex can be something you work up to in a relationship.

Single Parents and Talking to the Opposite Sex

Being a single parent of a child who is of the opposite gender can make things a little more uncomfortable when it comes to giving the sex talk. But, it is still super important to go through with it. If it is too distressing, enlist another family member to help out, like an uncle is you have a boy or an aunt if you have a girl. This can take some of the pressure off of you. The object is to create an open forum for sex questions between you and your child, so even if they are the opposite gender, make sure they know they can come to you with concerns and inquiries about sex.

Stay Calm and Respond Positively

Your response to your child’s questions should be relaxed and positive ones. Even if their question upsets you initially, or if you are unsure how to answer right away, make it clear that you’re happy they asked you. This will encourage them to ask you other things about sex and sexuality in the future. Always remember that it is perfectly acceptable to not know the right answer to your child’s questions about sex, but it is best if you can find out the answer and get back to them, even if this requires some research from books or from another trusted source.