How to speak to very young children about sex

talk to kids about sex

You may think “the talk” is far away. But here’s a guide to age appropriate sex talk with your very young child.

You think you have 12 good years before you need to worry about talking to your kids about sex. But be prepared. With kids as little as three, sex springs up in the unlikeliest of manners, in the most inappropriate moments. And with some guidance, you too can handle the tough situation with aplomb. Or at least pretend to. Here are some common situations you might be faced with children between the ages of three to six.

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 Your 3-year-old daughter is helping you change your infant son’s diaper and asks “what’s that?” pointing between his legs.

 What do you do? It might be super tempting to ask her to fetch the wipes, and fasten that diaper really quick and hope her attention has been diverted to never answer that question. But don’t. Parents typically shun from teaching their kids the real names to their private parts. It’s like the final frontier and usually euphemisms like pee-pee, wee-wee are stand-ins. Instead, it makes sense to give them the real names – – penis and vaginally – – for boys and girls, respectively and tell her that’s how you tell the difference in gender. Sure, they sound funny and so you’re probably going to be subject to some random screaming of these words where you don’t want them. Or some gems like this when they go about repearting – “Boys have pens and girls have chinas.” It’s totally normal and the lesser the deal you make about it, the lesser they’ll say it to annoy you. Have you noticed no child is running around screaming “hand” or “ears”? That’s because we don’t shudder when they use it. When we react abnormally to “penis” or “vagina”, they go on and on, simply to get a reaction out of you.

Your 5 year old is ice skating. It’s cold. And he comes up to you says, “Why’s my penis standing up?”

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What do you do? Other parents or kids may have heard him. Maybe you can give him an incomplete explanation, with a mental note to fill in the gaps later. Just say, “That’s because it’s cold. It’ll go down soon.” Or something even more generic, “We can talk about this later.” And then fulfil the promise. Back at home, ask him, “Do you remember what happened at the ice skating rink? Do you still want to talk about it?” Bets are, he doesn’t remember. Or care.

Your four year old is constantly touching himself

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Embarrassed as you maybe, sexual exploration in a young child is completely normal. By preschool years, most kids have figured out that touching themselves is comforting, warm and makes them feel good. What do you do? Tell them it’s ok to touch themselves only in the privacy of their own homes, and not in public places. This is also a great Segway into the “good touch, bad touch” talk that every parent must have with their three to five year olds. Tell them that these are their “private parts” and can be touched only by mom or dad while cleaning them, and that they should tell you immediately if anyone else attempted to touch them.

You’re potty training your three year old. You decide to let her see you use the potty. Instead, she stares at you and asks, “You have hair and I don’t?”

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What do you do? Rearrange your face from that mask of horror or embarrassment that you’re wearing. Kids ask straightforward and simple questions that don’t need complex answers. She isn’t looking for a lesson on puberty as she is to ask why you’re different. Just say, when people grow up, they grow hair in different places, like daddy’s beard or mommy’s legs. The human body isn’t dirty and you don’t want her to feel that way. A positive body image starts at home.

You’re pregnant with your second child. Your pre-schooler wants to know how she got in there.

The Indian way of answering this is “God put her in there.” This might work for a child under six. If they need more of an explanation, just segue into a PG6 rated talk. Instead of birds and bees, use the actual terms to talk about it. If your kid starts getting icked out, go back to simpler explanations.

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You’re flipping channels. A homosexual kiss comes on the screen and your five year old catches it before you quickly change it.

Your child has only the vaguest idea about heterosexuality. So introducing homosexuality can seem daunting. If he does ask you about it, be generic. “Any two people who’re in love express it to each other the same way. You’ve seen Daddy and me kiss. It’s like that.”

The YouTube playlist you’ve set up for your child has inappropriate condom ads playing. And your child is staring.

Curiosity is, once again, natural. Just explain that the advertisement is inappropriate for kids and he shouldn’t have seen it. Download the YouTube Kids application, which restricts inappropriate content and consider setting up parental control on TV and computers as well.

You step out of the shower naked and your four-year-old son is in the room

Don’t scamper for the towel and act like something bad happened. Mortified as you maybe, just casually cover yourself, ask him to leave the room and say you need some privacy to get dressed. Nudity is a natural part of us and making it look like taboo isn’t going to help. If he asks questions, answer them in a concise, objective manner. And set privacy guidelines that everyone follows. If your son insists on shutting the toilet door while he does his business, allow him that privacy. You can go back in, once he invites you to clean. This is how he learns to request and respect privacy.

What other questions have you been bombarded with by kindergarteners? Fire away and we’ll see if we can help you through some awkward situations.

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