Research tells us that if we’re confident talking to our children about sex and relationships from an early age, they are more likely grow up to be healthy, happy and sexually-responsible adults. They should find it easier to resist peer pressure and express their beliefs and values, delay sexual activity, have fewer sexual partners and be less likely to have an unplanned pregnancy or get a Sexually Transmissible Infection (STI).
Top 5 Tips
1. Start early and ‘grab the moment’. You’re aiming to give children a little amount of age-appropriate information, often.
2. As soon as you start naming body parts with your child, include the genital areas. Talk about ‘penis’, ‘vulva’, ‘vagina’ and ‘testicles’ as well as ‘willy’, ‘diddle’, ‘fanny’ or whatever names your family chooses to use.
3. If you see a pregnant woman, talk about pregnancy and how the baby got there. Look for books you can read together too.
4. From around 12 months of age children become very interested in difference. They’re interested in pets’ bottoms and the differences between girls and boys. This interest is perfectly normal and natural. However, it’s a good time to introduce the concept of public and private body parts and places, and appropriate and inappropriate touching.
5. If you stumble upon behaviour you don’t feel comfortable with, be inquiring rather than inquisitorial. Say, ‘tell me about what you’re doing’, then gently explain that our bodies are special and while it’s ok to touch our bodies in private, it’s not ok to touch other people’s bodies.