Instead of figuring out the right age to have the sex talk, we recommend that parents have multiple, open conversations as their child has questions and as their understanding of sex increases. When parents only sit their child down once and have “the talk,” it creates a situation where sex becomes a taboo subject and your child feels uncomfortable talking about it and can have difficulties dealing with sex in a healthy way as an adult.
Having the sex talk only once can be overwhelming for a child and they may say they “understand” when they really don’t just to get out of the uncomfortable situation. This means that your child may not have all the information they need about sex. Information about sex is widely available, often incorrectly, so if your child is not getting it from you rest assured that they are getting it. The best way to monitor the information that you child is getting, is to create an environment where your child feels comfortable coming to you and asking questions as they know that you will give them honest information. Using the skill of Effective Communication can help open the lines of communication and make having those difficult conversations easier.
How to teach your child about sex involves understanding your child’s level and not giving them more information than they need. This means answering the question your child asks truthfully and fully. Don’t create cutesy words or phrases to answer their questions as this confuses them when they learn the correct terms in the future. If your child asks a question that you don’t know the answer too, be honest and let them know that you’ll get back to them with the answer.
Keep your cool. Don’t become angry when they know more information you feel like they should. It’s also important that you don’t laugh at their questions. The environment you create is just as important as what you actually tell them. It’s ok to take a break and come back at another time to finish the conversation if the environment becomes strained.
For more information on how to have difficult conversations, don’t forget to check out Smarter Parenting.