Practical Psychology: Parental Guidance – Talking to your child about the birds and the bees

“How are babies made?” “What is sex?”

Are these the type of questions which make you want to run away?

Parents often ask: How old should a child be before you can talk to him/her about sex? My answer would be:

“The younger, the easier.”

If you do this, there never need to be the much dreaded talk about “the birds and the bees.”

It then rather becomes a series of little chats over the years and you become the person your child goes to when a question arises.

Being a parent whom your child feels comfortable with to ask questions, can be an invaluable gift to your child.
How much information is enough and how much is too much? Be guided by your child’s questions.
As your child develops and asks more complex questions, you can provide more information.

• Be natural. When your child unexpectedly asks you a question for which you were not prepared, you could say: “Let me think a bit about that. That is a very good question. Make sure you do go back with an answer later.
• Limit your answer to what is asked and avoid long explanations.
• Teach your child the correct names for the sexual organs. Many experts are of the opinion that by teaching children anatomically correct terms, age-appropriately, promotes positive body image, self-confidence, and parent-child communication.
• Asks if your child wants to know more. Follow your answer up with: “Does this answer your question?”
• Listen to your child’s reactions.
• Discover your own attitude towards sex. Your child is likely to pick up on your attitude and to act accordingly.
• Use everyday situations around you like a pregnant woman for example, to start a discussion with your child in a natural way.
• Relax. You don’t have to know all the answers. How you react is much more important than what you know. If you can convey the message to your child that no subject is forbidden to ask you questions about, you might be on the right track…

Clarette Lubbe

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