Children learn about sex from a very young age, even if we don’t talk with them about it. There are many mixed messages in the media about sex and sexuality which can lead to confusion and extra complications – children don’t know what is real and where to get support. Children need time & space to develop their own understanding but instead they are being presented with images and ideas that they may not be emotionally able to deal with.
Having babies is something only grown-ups do, so you don’t need to worry about it now. But yes, that is one of the ways babies are made. When a man and a woman have sex, the man’s sperm and the woman’s egg come together and that is how a baby can start to grow.
When you are older, if you don’t want to have sex to make a baby, you can adopt a baby or have in vitro fertilization, this is when a doctor puts a woman’s eggs and a man’s sperm together.
Sex is meant to be an enjoyable experience between grown-ups. It should not be painful.
If your child keeps asking questions about this, it might be that they have heard something, seen an inappropriate scene on TV or had a frightening experience. Be sensitive and gently draw out their concerns: “Sex is only for adults and should only happen when both people want it. Nobody is allowed to force someone else to have sex. If you are ever in a situation where someone hurts you or touches you, you need to speak up and make them stop. Then tell me or (other parent) or another adult you trust”.
When people masturbate, they touch their own genitals to get a nice feeling. Masturbation is something a person would do in private. Some boys and girls masturbate, some don’t.
Children should know that masturbation is healthy and normal, that it doesn’t cause physical or mental harm and that it should be done in a private place. There are a lot of myths about masturbation, that it causes blindness or hairy palms. Tell your child that those stories are not true.
It is so important that we talk to our children about different sexual orientations, and gender diversity. Be open and honest with your child, there are many different types of orientation (homosexuality, bisexuality, pansexuality, heterosexuality). Use the formal and the informal terms for each of these so your child can understand. You could use paper and pens to write these out with your child, but remember to tell them that although there are different sexual orientations everyone is unique. A good tip is to also be very neutral in your language, (don’t presume that your child is heterosexual), use phrases like “when you’re older and you have a boyfriend or girlfriend…”. Be positive in your language about different sexual orientations – children are listening all of the time!
Women and girls get their period when they have begun to go through puberty. It is the body’s way of preparing itself for when (or if) a woman wants to get pregnant when she is older. Although girls usually get their first period when they are in their early teen years, the body is not developed enough to actually have a baby, it is just getting itself ready for when she is older. Periods are a healthy part of being a girl/woman and although they can be hard to get used to at the start, it soon becomes a totally normal part of growing up. When ads for sanitary pads or tampons comes on the telly, use this as an opportunity to normalise the topic, say things like “oh that’s a new feature” or “who knew you could get seated pads?” Also, be sure to have pads in-stock so that your child knows where to find them if needed. Boys are always very curious about periods, so be sure to fill them in on why women have periods. We all need the information!
For more info direct them to the “How To” section for more tips and advice on periods.