Start Sooner Than You Think
Talking to Your Toddler
You may have noticed around town that baby season is in full swing. Yes, that’s right - babies are being born left and right this time of year. It was just nine months ago when Cupid let his arrow soar and now it's like everyone you know is pushing a stroller or sporting a big beautiful pregnant belly.
Now I know you that you're clear on how babies came to be, but regardless of whether you are parenting a single child or a small basketball team, you need a plan for how talk to your kids about sex. Last week we told you we'd bring you specific, easy to apply tips on how to open up the conversation. This week, we will start with the little ones. From toddlers to 12 year olds. Let's start with your baby.
We know what you must be thinking: my baby isn't going to have any idea what I’m talking about, or, They won't need this this information for a long time!
We agree with you. They will not need this information for several years. That said, introducing the conversation helps you to get comfortable with talking about sex. We're not whipping out the guns and whistles this early on, we're only bringing up the topic of vocabulary. Begin educating them on the correct name for their body parts. Just like you tell them “This is your nose!” you should also be able to tell him/her “This is your penis, and it's great! Some people call it a pee pee, that is such a funny word, isn't it?” or “This is your vulva, honey. And it is an incredible body part, some people call it a pee pee!” You can do this type of thing from birth to age three or four. This is a great way for you to be able to talk to your little one about all parts of their body and for them to be used to you talking to them about their body no matter what part it is. This is also the age group to talk about “good and bad touch” as well as the right to protect their bodies.
Talking To Your 5 - 7 Year Old
So now lets talk about the 5 to 7 age group. Those of you with kids in this range know this is a fun group. This is the group that will ask innocent questions that will make you blush. No need to worry cause you get to answer their questions as they ask them. So when they ask “Mom, how did I get into your belly?” you can say “When two people love each other and want to have a baby, they get real close for a special hug that makes a baby inside.” This age group doesn’t need diagrams and pictures of fallopian tubes and such. They are just trying to figure out the world. Just remember the more you answer their questions and the more you consistently make this a casual conversation and topic, you are setting the stage for tweens and teens (whom we will talk about next week) to feel good about coming to you with questions.
This is also the age when you will hear “Eeewwwww!” just for kissing your loved one in front of them. You have our permission to take this squeal as an invitation to talk about intimacy, love, and how adults show they love each other. You may want to wait until they take their sticky fingers off their eyes, though.
Now that the kiddos are in school, you may hear snippets about classmates trying to get your child’s attention in a way that they feel picked on. Before you blurt out “Oh he/she is doing that cause they like you!” try pausing for a moment and choose an approach that probably differs from the way you were brought up. This is another great “open door” for you to talk about consent and respect.
If you missed our previous blog on consent, check it out here.
You can remind them that they have the right to have their body and space respected. Getting “picked on” should not be their framework for how we perceive interest. This is a great opportunity for them to learn how they can behave to show someone they like them. The earlier you start these small, easy talks, the more comfortable you will be as the conversations gets more specific and in-depth.
Check us out next week as we tackle the tweens and teens and address some of their sex and sexuality concerns.
This week’s guest blogger is Gabriela Galvan De Antillon. Gabriela is a board certified sex therapist that has worked with hundreds of parents, coaching them on how and when to have "the sex talk." For more information on Gabriela, check out her site today.