This month I will be talking about communication and sex, and for the first blog, I want to write about how to communicate with your child about sex. Here are 5 tips for healthy communication with your child about sex.
1) Do it! That’s right; the biggest problem with parents is that they avoid the conversation. Of course that means you need to do an inventory of yourself and your own attitudes about sex and how sex was communicated to you as a child. Research shows that children that feel comfortable going to the parents to talk about sex participate in less risky sex and delay having sex more often. If you’ re not talking to them, believe me, somebody else is. You want to be the first in line and you want to be inviting to your child to discuss his or her own questions.
2) Do it early and in age appropriate ways. This is not “the sex conversation.” This is a series of conversations from younger age through adolescence. You talk differently to a 10 year old than a 12 year old or of course a 14 or 16 year old.
3) Discussing menstruation should begin around age 8 and it should be explained to boys as well as girls. Puberty for boys and girls can start at 9 or as early as 8 years old so I would recommend communicating to them about all the possible changes that boys and girls can go through at around 8 years old. It is better for them to be informed before it happens.
4) Use the real words for private parts and not nicknames. We want to give our children a sense of comfort about their private parts. Nicknames for these body parts give the suggestion that these parts are dirty. We don’t want shame attached to healthy sexual knowledge.
5) Get educated yourself. The more knowledge you have about puberty, birth control, etc., the more confident you will be to talk to your child about these important topics.