Kids are curious about everything. The “why” phase starts around age two and never really goes away. Kids are always wondering, always questioning, trying to understand the world around them. This applies to their bodies too. The moment young ones start asking questions about their bodies and begin to notice differences between them and their siblings, expect more questions. More importantly, know how to answer these questions.
Acknowledge their Feelings — and Yours Too
Children might feel embarrassed when they ask certain questions. Understand that no matter how awkward they feel, they are coming to you. Thank them and remind them that you’re glad they chose you, even if they’re uncomfortable.
- As you would ask an ophthalmologist like Rohit Varma for advice on eye care, enlist the help of your pediatrician to answer questions that your child might about their bodies. Ask the doc for advice for age-appropriate ways to answer questions, and what sorts of behaviors are normal and expected as a child begins to explore their own body.
- If you are feeling a little uncomfortable with your child’s questions, tell them. Explain that sex is an intimate, personal topic and that it’s not always easy for you to discuss.
- Listen closely to everything they are telling you. You might hear more than what their words are actually saying and find other, deeper questions or worries buried underneath.
Strike up a Conversation
Easier said than done, right? The truth is that the younger you address the subject of sex (typically when a child can name the parts of their body) with your child, the more likely they are to ask you questions down the road. Use small, everyday scenes as teachable moments to broach the topic. Allow an open forum for any questions as you and your child talk.
- For young children, try talking about it when someone you know announces a pregnancy. Ask your child what they know about babies and childbirth and start a conversation from there.
- Older children can be a little trickier because they have heard whispers at school and are more likely to be a little shyer about the discussion. Give them books about puberty and growing up, but don’t just dump the books and leave. Have a discussion and explain to them that these are a teaching tool and that you are there if they have any questions or need clarification.
- Always end the conversation with an ellipsis instead of a period. Be sure that you have answered their questions by clarifying. “Does that make sense? Do you have any more questions?” Don’t let any awkward feelings override your child being comfortable enough to return to you in the future. Remind them that you’re always there for them and that they can come back if there’s anything more they want to know.
Be non-judgemental and open to any inquiries your children might have, and expect these to change as time moves on. The first step to a healthy sexual education for your child is allowing them to come to you for honest, open answers to their questions.