Talking to kids about sex and relationships can help prepare them to make better-informed choices. It’s never too early to start talking to your children, and never too late! The earlier sex and relationships education begins, the easier it will become.
Some parents find talking about sex education topics uncomfortable or embarrassing. Sometimes it’s down to a lack of knowledge or cultural ideals, for others they prefer their children to learn at school. At Tough Cookies Education, we encourage a balance of the two.
What should you talk about…
Puberty – what will happen to their body when they grow from childhood to adulthood
Love – all different kinds of love, who are the people that love and care for us, what does love mean, what love feels like.
Relationships – different types of relationships, healthy relationships, unhealthy relationships.
Periods – about the reproductive system and organs, the menstrual cycle and how to manage periods.
Health – how to keep their bodies and minds healthy, who to speak to if they have any worries.
Acceptance – respecting differences, celebrating diversity, anti-bullying and the isms.
Equality – their rights and responsibilities, gender stereotypes.
Self-esteem – learning about themselves, their values, goals and aspirations.
Respect – positive behaviour, consequences, responsibilities, how to manage conflict.
Sexuality – different gender identities and expressions, understanding of LGBTQ terminology.
Sex – about the reproductive systems, human reproduction, the age of consent, how to talk about consent, different kinds of sexual activity, how to stay safe.
Online – how to be safe online, how to block and report.
When should you talk about it….
0 – 8 years
You can start to teach the name of the private body parts from the beginning, using the correct and scientific terms such as penis, testicles, breast, nipple, vulva, bottom.
You can teach about body autonomy; their body belongs to them.
As they get older, they may learn about how babies are born, they understand that a baby grows inside a womb. They may start to learn about public and private spaces.
9 – 11 years
This is a great time to talk about puberty and the changes that will happen to their bodies as they grow up. It gives you the chance to build an open and trusting relationship so they know they can come to you with any questions they have about their bodies.
12 – 14 years
From this age, an open and honest dialogue is encouraged. Explaining about sexual relationships and sexuality, healthy relationships, being safe online and the laws which help keep children and young people safe.
15 – 17 years
This is a great time to support your child to build their independence around their own health and wellbeing, teaching them how to make an appointment for health care, where they can access support if they or their friends needed it.
Build your confidence
If you are unsure or embarrassed, seek some advice, it could be from a friend, your child’s school, your own parents. As the old proverb says ‘It takes a village to raise a child’ so use your community and the support or services you have around you.
Mums, dads, grandparents, sisters and brothers
All family members can have a role, some may be better than others talking about the topics, try to not reinforce stereotypes. Teach boys about the girl’s stuff, and girls about boys too.
Some children will ask you anything and everything and others will ask you nothing at all. Use storybooks with young children and TV programmes with older children and teens to open up the discussion about SRE topics.
Explain things at the level that your child can understand but use the correct terminology from the start. Don’t teach children that sex, vagina, penis are ‘naughty words’ you want your child to be able to talk to you about these parts of their body and their worries, they may be apprehensive to do so if you have labelled them as saying something wrong.
I don’t know
If you don’t know, say so… don’t try to wing it and pass on the myths you think may be true. Learn together, read a book, head to a trusted website, ask a friend or family member. You could attend a training course for parents and carers, like the ones provided by Tough Cookies Education.
For more information contact Tough Cookies Education Ltd