Lots of parents agonize over when and how to start talking to their kids about sexual health. Sex education can feel awkward, and your kids may not make it more comfortable. Still, it is SO important that you have these conversations (notice – that was plural!).
Research shows that parents have the biggest influence on their children’s attitudes toward sex.
A few tips:
- Knowing body parts is the foundation of sex education. Teach your children the proper names for their body parts. This helps to minimize shame and encourage children to be open to other dialogue with you later on. You can start at any age.
- Include basic facts. Teach your children what changes they can expect during puberty, how pregnancy happens, how to prevent pregnancy until they are ready, what sexually transmitted infections are and how to prevent those infections.
- Share your values. Let your children know what choices you hope they will make. Talk about consent and healthy relationships. Avoid judgmental language as much as possible.
- Pace yourself. This is definitely more marathon than sprint. You don’t have to do one giant lecture. Aim for small conversations that occur frequently throughout childhood and adolescence.
- Check in with your children. Encourage them to tell you what they think or have heard about related topics on the news, in pop culture or on social media (if appropriate for your child’s age and development).
Need help getting started? Talk to your pediatrician or call the St. Louis Children’s Hospital Family Resource Center (FRC) at 314.454.2350.