When and how to start talking

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10 reasons for talking about sexuality (soon)

10 reasons for talking about sexuality (soon)

Many children want to know
Many younger children are curious about how babies grow, and how they ‘started’.

Talking to them openly and honestly shows that they can come to you with their questions.

It sets the stage for later conversations
Give children (and yourself) practice being comfortable talking about sexual matters before they are older and reluctant to discuss the topic.

Showing them that you are willing to help them find the answers to their ‘tricky’ questions when they are younger will encourage them to seek help from you when they are older.

It helps children cope better with puberty
Kids worry ‘Am I normal?’ and ‘When will it happen?’.

Learning what to expect and how to manage it helps children to become independent and confident.

Puberty is tough for those who are the first (and last) to develop.

Some girls experience breast swelling at age 8 and some boys have late growth spurts.

Explaining that there is a wide range of ‘normal’ when it comes to how our bodies (and minds) change and develop throughout our life can be reassuring.

It ensures boys get included in sexuality education within the family
Boys often miss out on sexuality education within the family.5

Mums tend to provide more discussion on this topic but may know less than dads about boys’ development.

Boys are often left to learn about sex and sexuality via the internet.

It shows your kid you 'have their back'
Tell your kids it’s not OK for relatives or others to make observations about their breast development, weight gain, skinniness or any other commentary on their bodies.

This is a good way of showing your kids they have the right to have their bodies respected.

It helps young people make healthier choices
Research shows that children whose parents talk with them about sexuality and who receive good sexuality education at school are more likely to:

• start sex later

• have sex when they are ready

• have consensual sex

• are less likely to have an unplanned pregnancy

• are less likely to get an STI.

It can help protect them from sexual abuse
Keeping discussions about sex and bodies a secret can help sexual abusers keep their crimes secret.

Open discussion at home gives children permission to talk with you about sex and sexual body parts which makes them feel safe to ask questions and let you know if they are worried about something.

Regular reminders that their body is their own and that no-one can touch them without their consent helps protect them in both their early and later years.

It can make life easier for kids who are not traditional ‘boy’ types or ‘girl’ types
There is more than one kind of boy and one kind of girl, but kids can suffer if they don’t follow the expected norms.

Children who are transgender or intersex, or kids in LGBTI families can find themselves excluded too.

If we start early to question rigid gender stereotypes we can prevent a lot of misery and help to broaden everyone’s options, ultimately contributing to kids’ wellbeing and sense of belonging.

It allows you to share your family values
Many younger children are curious about how babies grow, and how they ‘started’.

Talking to them openly and honestly shows that they can come to you with their questions.

It shows them that it’s OK to talk
The research tells us that children may not come to you if they have a question – they are waiting for you to raise the topic first.

They may be embarrassed to reveal that they are interested or, in the case of older teens, worried that you will assume they are sexually active.

Show them it’s ok to talk by taking the lead and starting conversations.