There are common mistakes that we all make when it comes to talking to our kids about sex.

Here are the 5 biggest mistakes that parents make when it comes to talking to their kids about sex:

Mistake #1: Assume it’s only about sex

Sex education is more than teaching your kids about sex. It is about giving your kids the skills to be able to make strong friendships and to one day have loving relationships.

For primary school kids, this includes learning about being male or female, learning about their bodies, their body parts and what they do. Sex education helps kids recognise and manage their feelings, get along with others and most importantly, know the difference between public and private spaces, behaviours and parts. It helps them understand rules about touching. Learning about the actual ‘sex stuff’ doesn’t happen until much later.

Mistake #2: Give ‘The Talk’

Let’s be clear. You simply can’t do sex education with a big one-off talk (even if you think you’ve covered everything).

When looking at how we teach our kids about sex, I find it useful to think of how we teach kids about road safety.

Do you sit down with your child, teach them about road safety in one talk and then let them cross a busy road by themselves?

Of course not!

You have lots of frequent and repetitive talks about road safety that slowly build up and reinforce their knowledge until you are confident that they can make the right decisions when crossing the road.

Sex education happens in much the same way. You do it in lots of small, frequent conversations. If you can teach your kids about road safety then you can teach your kids about sex in healthy way that keeps them safe and happy.

Mistake #3: Let kids get ‘educated’ elsewhere.

No matter how uncomfortable it makes us feel, at some stage, all kids will learn about sex. If they don’t learn about it from you, they’ll pick up messages and values from their friends, TV, the Internet or magazines. These messages are often inaccurate, misleading and confusing. And the chances are that the values they learn will not be the values that you want your children to learn.

By talking with your child you can help them to make sense of this information, put them right, and make sure they haven’t got some strange, wrong or risky ideas. They’ll also know that they can come to you with their questions.

Mistake #4: Put it off.

Sometimes even just the thought of sex education can make it seem easier to do nothing or to wait until the puberty fairy visits!

Get used to talking to your kids about the easier topics before they want to know about the ‘sex’ part! Preschoolers are more curious about the differences in anatomy between boys and girls or in how babies come out of a mother’s body than in the mechanics of sexual intercourse!

By starting early, you will find the trickier stuff much easier to navigate, later on.

Mistake #5: Feeling inadequate

Sometimes parents think they need to know an awful lot to be a great sex educator, but you only need three things to get started.

  1. A basic understanding of the topic
  2. A willingness to initiate conversations with your kids.
  3. Knowing where to go to find the answers and resources.

And trust me, you already know more than your kids do. You have experiences that count: puberty, first time sex, being in love, pregnancy, childbirth…

So what now?

Now that you’ve discovered some common mistakes parents make, you can try to avoid them. And if you have already made some of these mistakes, well now you know what to do about it!

All that you need to do now, is to start talking! And don’t forget, that you already have a basic understanding of the topic (you have kids, so of course you do!).

Have you discussed sex education with your children yet? Do you have any tips to share? Please comment below.

Image courtesy of Shutterstock.com

  • yeah just keep it age appropriate and be simple but honest


  • Yes we started early, around their 3rd year. As soon they came with questions I took those moments to tell somethings (you know quick enough when they loose their interest it has been enough) and they would come back on it and I would repeat or tell more. Now my eldest 2 just reached the double digits and they’re well informed, but still we have a lot of talking to do :)


  • I’m yet to discuss because they’re so little but I will have a relaxed attitude about it and talk openly

    • That is great to hear! Also, the earlier you start the easier it is! Which means you’ll be a pro by the time they hit puberty!


  • Love it! My Son has been asking questions hear and there but i didn’t go into it too much. Great to know now that it is worthwhile starting earlier and bit by bit. Love the example about road safety. Thanks

    • If they are asking, it means that they are ready to hear the answer! It sounds like you are on track!


  • We’ve started early as it’s easier to give information in bite sized pieces – our youngest is three, but we’ve started.

    • Oh so true – 3 year olds have a memory as long as a goldfish – unless there is chocolate involved! Most things need repeating!


  • I know lots of people who have made these mistakes. Another mistake I would add to the list is not using proper names. I use vulva, vagina, penis and testicles as much as possible when I can, I even get my kid to repeat the words to make sure she can say them. sometimes I would ask her questions to test her knowledge and correct any mistakes or confusion before they become more complicated.

    • That’s very true – this is probably the first step in sex education – the act of simply naming our bits correctly. Your kids are lucky to have a switched on mum!


  • Fantastic tips! My (just) 4yr old is obsessed about body parts already & I hope that letting her talk about it with me now makes her not scared to ask later.


  • Thank you for sharing your thoughts Cath.


  • I have no idea whether or not they are still available. An Auntie of mine bought her daughter a child’s book suitable for about a 6 – 7 year old. It was in the days of VCRs. She hired a copy of a cassette with that on it so it could be played a few times for the girls to absorb the details. It showed the sperm fertilising the eggs and the start of the baby forming. I can’t remember how much more than that it showed.

    • hmm… I wonder if it was ‘Where do I come from’? They had a video!

      I am sure that there are some fantastic old videos out there that we have forgotten about – thanks for sharing!


  • I have a teenage boy and we’ve had and continue to have ongoing discussions about sex. They’re usually prompted by my son and something he’s seen or heard. This happened at a youngish age. I love that he’s open and comfortable talking to my husband and I about these things. School has been good and other related talks within his footy club etc. Debriefs after parties also give us the opportunity to talk about things, and TV shows we watch together. I feel comfortable we have an open relationship about such discussions and my son knows that.

    • Well, you must be doing something right if he is still talking to you about stuff!! Congratulations!


  • What age do most MOMs start with sex ed?

    • It all depends on the individual child, but around 4ish, they become very interested in babies ie where they come from, etc. And then, sometime around 5-7, they want to know how they are made!

      I hope that answers your question! I have a lot of info about this stuff over on my website.


  • It sounds to me that you have had a great start to it!


  • Start slow and always be open with your children – It probably took me about 6 or 7 years of forthright talking when they asked a question to fully get through the whole idea of sex education and meaningful relationships.

    • That is so true – my daughter is 10 and even though i have told her, has only just twigged that me and her dad also have sex for fun!


  • I agree with this article, it’s a continuous conversation. Be open and start early, it will make it easier to talk when the kids get older.

    • Oh yes, the earlier you start the easier it gets! By then you will be a lot more comfortable with the tricky stuff like – mum, i want to have my new boyfriend sleep over this weekend!?!?


  • Little by little. Start of in a simple way but truthful then as they get older more detail.

    • Exactly! I ran a workshop the other day and this was the answer i gave to their question about how to make it age appropriate! You just keep adding on the details until they understand!


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