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.
- A basic understanding of the topic
- A willingness to initiate conversations with your kids.
- 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.
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