Sexuality education is not a very active developmental aspect in our children’s lives. In fact, the country tends to ignore or push it aside completely, making it seem more awkward and complicated than it actually is. What do you get when there is no proper information or education? You get people learning from incorrect sexual scripts in the media, from word of mouth, and from ill-informed yet well intended people.
So what is child sexual education? It includes: sexual health, body anatomy, hygiene, physical, emotional and mental development, healthy emotional relations, human rights and responsibilities, safety risks, and the ability to determine sexual abuse and violence and take actions accordingly.
Will I accelerate my child’s sexual development if I talk to them about it? What if they begin acting out what we tell them? Are we giving them too much information?
There’s no such thing as “too much information will damage your child”. Equipping them with age-appropriate information through regular conversations is the key to helping turn them into responsible, mature, and self-aware adults whom are able to take calculated decisions in their lives.
Children have their own development, and they will learn about sex from the world. It’s up to you whether you want to be a part of it or not.
Note: If you feel shy, embarrassed, or awkward about it, talk in a friendly manner. It’s okay to joke!
Each age has it’s own developmental stage and it’s own mental and emotional capacity. Using age-appropriate information for every stage will equip your child with enough information to grasp reality, what’s happening to them and around them, and to understand when they aren’t in a safe environment.
Ask what they already know first
Step one is to actually ask them what they already know. This is a good idea in order to correct any misinformation grasped from gossip, the media, or kids around them.
Ask what they would like to know
Step two is to ask them what they want to know. Sometimes what they want to know is completely different from what you think. For example, when a child asks, “Where do babies come from?”, all they want to know is where they come from, not your sexual activities. It has nothing to do with sex.
Don’t assume one or two conversations will do it
Just like any other developmental aspect, our sexuality will not be fulfilled with just one or two conversations. It’s an ongoing learning experience. Even if they never come and ask you, initiate it. They might not think they can come talk to you. You’d like to create a safe space for them to do so no matter what happens, even if they think you will get angry. It’s better to know than to be unaware.
Avoiding Conversation Stoppers
Moral development is an essential aspect in shaping a human being, however, do not confuse it with imposing your own judgments or beliefs. Focus on universal morals such as empathy, responsibility, compassion, and care for oneself and another. Don’t demand that your child have the same values that you do, because demanding it will cause an opposite reaction immediately. Instead, equip them with information to understand the difference; for them to come to a belief on their own, whatever it is. This way, you are equipping your child with the mental capacity to question, assess, and act responsibly. This goes beyond sex education.
Also, avoid criticizing, reacting in horror or anger, the assumption they want your guidance or are sexually active if they ask questions. Just listen. It’s as simple as that.
Send us your questions about child sex education for Dana to answer in an upcoming feature. Additionally, if you would like to know more about age-appropriate information, details or how to to address specific issues, you can contact Dana for private consultations at Prime Clinics.