The Birds and the Bees Talk

The Birds and the Bees Talk

25 April 2019

Talking to your kids about sex is right up there with sticking your hand into an open fire, right? Orgasms, ejaculation, condoms, periods… Just thinking about it could turn even the most confident parent into a quivering mess. Tricky? It doesn’t have to be.

According to The American Academy of Paediatrics, parents should start talking to kids about sex when they are toddlers, of course, in an age appropriate way. A simple way to begin is by using the right name for genitals. It’s never too early to start teaching kids the correct name for their body parts. When you’re giving your tot a bath, state matter-of-factly: “This is your nose, this is your tummy, and this is your penis.”

It is confusing for kids to have cutesy names for some body parts and not for others. When teaching a child the correct name for their genitals, they have no overwhelming shame or shyness around that part of the body. And no, your pre-schooler is by no means ready for a course in obstetrics, but if your four-year-old asks: “Where do babies come from?” you may want to start with a simple answer: “A seed from the daddy and an egg from the mommy come together and grow in a special place in the mommy’s tummy called a womb.” (No stork stories, please.) Some tots may be satisfied while others may want to know more. You’ll know you haven’t given enough info if they have more questions.

So, ideally as a parent you’ve already started talking to your kids about the changes our bodies go through as we grow. If you haven’t done that yet, it’s time.

Teens especially, experience big life changes. Their hormones are in overdrive and they may be under pressure to have sexual intercourse, whether or not they feel ready. And, while they may not admit it, teens want support and guidance from their parents. So, no matter how awkward it may seem to talk to them about sexuality, do it anyway.

Ultimately if you don’t talk to your child about sex, someone else will. It may be their peers, social media or television. You want your child to learn about sex in the context of feelings and relationships, not just in disease prevention.

Unfortunately there’s no step-by-step manual, but we have a few tips to get you started:

  • Be brave. As you courageously talk to them, not only will you equip them with the information to make wise decisions, but they will learn to trust you in even the most sensitive areas of life.
  • Assume they know more than you think. It is your job as a parent to help them to put it all together in a way that reflects your values.
  • Know, and share, the basics. Talk about what sex is, what behaviours could lead to sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Talk about birth control and abstinence.
  • Model healthy sexuality. Kids will pick up on how you feel about sex. Live the way you want your kids to live as they mature.
  • Be Switzerland. Don’t judge. Just listen. There may be some eye-popping questions but give factually sound answers in order for them to make safe decisions.

Studies show that well-informed teens are the ones who are going to wait longer before becoming sexually active and use contraceptives when they do. They want to know; wouldn’t you rather the information come from you?


DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.

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