Children nowadays are bombarded with information from television, movies, and the internet, especially from social media. It is not surprising that they are exposed to the topic of sexuality. And the children exposed to this subject are getting younger. Some are even as young as 9 to 12 years old; an age commonly called the tween age. Unfortunately, the information they get on this topic might not be the correct one.
Parents need to provide them with the proper answers to questions that might be on their mind. But most parents, because they grew up at a time when sexuality was not talked about, are embarrassed to bring up the subject with their children. And sometimes they don’t know what to say or what is even the correct information to give. It is not unusual for a parent to be in this situation. “Let’s face it, we’re all embarrassed to talk about sex with each other,” Warren Seigel, M.D., says. He adds, “But it’s important to talk about, and we have to talk about embarrassing things sometimes.”
At What Age Should You Start Discussing Sexuality With Your Child?
Making your child comfortable discussing their body should start at a very early age, preferably during their preschool years. This lets them know that you are approachable and that they can ask you questions. As they grow older, you should keep on discussing their body and answering any questions they may have. Avoid using euphemisms and use accurate terms for body parts such as vagina and penis. You should start doing this year before they start puberty which usually begins between the ages of 9 and 11. If they start asking questions, then they are ready to learn the correct terms for body parts.
What You Should Discuss With Your Child
Sexuality is a vast topic and is not limited to the subject of having sex. It encompasses subject matters ranging from romantic feelings to gender identity to sexual orientation. Discussing sexuality with your child allows you to talk about your principles and beliefs regarding the topics being discussed. “Our children live in a highly sexualized society where they are exposed to sexual language, images, and behaviors before they are developmentally prepared to handle them.”, Kenneth R. Ginsburg, MD and co-author, wrote.
All children are different, and as a parent, it is up to you to determine how much information to give to your child. Some parents may decide to wait until the child is older (between the ages of 14 and 16, for example) to discuss topics related to sexual intercourse such as the dangers of STDs and the use of contraception. Louanne Cole Weston, PhD reminds to “Never avoid a “teachable moment.” Dive in and offer accurate information whenever your child sashays anywhere near the topic of sex. Don’t wait for the point-blank question to be asked.”
As they reach puberty, you should be prepared to talk about the changes their body will undergo. You should also talk about the emotional changes that go with youth. You may also need to discuss menstruation with your daughter.
You should let your tween know that sexuality is healthy and not something to be embarrassed about. But they should be aware that specific behavior can be seen as sexual and discuss with them how to deal with such action when they encounter them. Teach them that a good sexual relationship should be based on trust and mutual respect and that they have the right to say “NO” if they are uncomfortable.
You must also teach your tween how to know if they are in an abusive relationship. Give them advice on how to avoid being sexually abused. Children are often faced with peer pressure, and you can give them tips on how to deal with it.