Tips for Talking to Your Kids About the Birds & the Bees
A guest post from sexual health educator Amy Lang
No matter how open, informed, or confident you may be, talking to kids about sex can be tough! It can feel awkward and uncomfortable for both you and your kids to have these conversations, but don’t let these feeling deter you.
Over and over again, when teens are surveyed, they say the people who have the most influence over their sexual decision making is their parents!
We are powerful, we have influence and they want and need to hear from us.
School won’t handle it, their peers and the media either, so that leaves us. And most of us are really pretty clueless as to how and when these conversations should start.
Remember, this is about health and safety – both physical and emotional health. The sooner you start (age 5 isn’t too young) the better. And kids who have open communication with their parents about sexuality are offered some protection from sexual abuse.
And really, just do it! So THEY won’t do it without thoughtful preparation and protection and make you a grandparent before you’re ready.
Here are 10 tips for talking to your kids about the birds and the bees:
- The very first thing you need to do is clarify your values about sexuality, love and relationships. Start the conversations early and, remember, it’s NEVER too late to start these conversations. Always say “this is not for kids, and for when you’re older.”
- Elementary age kids need to know people mostly have sex for pleasure, what “sexy” means, and your values about dating, different kinds of relationships and families, when sex is okay, and about puberty.
- This a series of short and sweet conversations throughout childhood and adolescence, not one big “talk” that traumatizes you both.
- Talk to your kids in the car, text them, email them, or write them notes. You don’t have to do this face-to-face all the time.
- Look for teachable moments – watching movies or TV, or even from their friends’ lives.
- Get age appropriate books for them to read with or without you. Include books about puberty and adolescence.
- Acknowledge their discomfort and your own and then dive in. They need this information to make great choices.
- Make sure they know they are in charge of their bodies, and have the right to say NO if anyone touches them in a way that feels uncomfortable.
- Tell them who their “safe” adults are and as they age, LISTEN way more than you talk. Reserve judgment and be calm. Use a peer-to-peer communication style.
- Relax and take the time to plan what you want to say before you say it! And practice it over and over!
There are more general tips for talking to your kids on my website, as well as video tips, book suggestions, interviews, my Mom’s Choice Award® winning books and products. Get 7 Easy Tips for the Talk here.
About the Author
Amy Lang, MA teaches parents of all beliefs how to talk to kids about sex through consultations, workshops, videos, teleclasses and talks. She is a three time Mom’s Choice Award® winner for her products and books. A sexual health educator for over 20 years, Amy also has a MA in Applied Behavioral Science.
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