Ten Tips on Talking with Your Kids about Sex
By Krista Bloom
Sexuality is a normal part of growing up. For most parents and
caregivers, though, sex is often an uncomfortable topic to approach
with their kids. Many people say “I’d rather not” or “we’ll talk
about it later.” Some people fear that talking openly about sex will
give the message “you should have sex and lots of it.” That will
depend on the messages that you give. You as a parent or caregiver
can be a healthy role model for them, and teach them limits and
boundaries while recognizing their natural curiosities.
Teaching children about safety and responsibility is very important
to their development. Sharing your values with them openly and
giving them reasons behind your values can be very meaningful and
can influence children to think before they act. Not speaking with
children about sex increases the likelihood of them finding out
misinformation from their peers or encourages them to practice
unsafe sex. Keeping kids “in the dark” about sex can be likened to
not teaching them household safety; what they don’t know could hurt
Children and adolescents often think they are invincible, that they
will not get pregnant or contract any sexually transmitted diseases
(STD’s) such as HIV, Herpes, or other diseases too numerous to
mention. It is important to approach the topic of sexuality, to
discuss the pleasures and risks of sex with them. Also, they are
heavily influenced by their peers, and want to be accepted. This
might cause them to engage in behaviors they otherwise might avoid.
“If all my friends are doing it….” As a parent, you have the ability
to counteract some of the peer pressure with healthy messages.
The following are a few suggestions you may use to discuss sex
openly with children and adolescents:
1. Educate yourself about child and teenage sexual development, and
safer sex. You can read materials, attend workshops, or watch videos
about how to talk you’re your kids about sex before they become
sexually active. (The age for this is as young as 10 or 11 nowadays)
2. Start early. Talk with your children about their bodies,
including body functions in a way they can understand based on their
age. Avoid shaming them for being curious about sexuality.
3. Discuss your values about sex, and why you chose those values.
4. Talk about possible positive and negative outcomes of sexual
5. As needed, use some age-appropriate educational books, videos, or
pamphlets geared to children and adolescents.
6. Allow your children to ask questions about sex, and be as honest
as you can with them. If you don’t know how to respond to a
question, it is ok to say that you will find out the answer and tell
7. Talk with children and teens about what to expect from their
bodies due to hormonal changes, such as development of breasts,
menstruation, masturbation, wet dreams, body hair, genitals, etc. so
they are not “freaked out” by these natural changes.
8. Discuss safer sex practices, and unsafe ones. Include information
about birth control, risks of various sexual activities such as
kissing, petting, and intercourse, as is age appropriate.
9. Take your youngster workshops, sex education classes, or to a
clinic so they can have access to information and resources.
10. The best thing that you can do is value your child and
adolescent, to encourage them to feel good about their bodies and
their minds. A young person’s high self-esteem goes a long way.
If you are too uncomfortable discussing the issues, you can also
seek consultation with a therapist that can guide you through.
Either way, there is help and resources available.
Whether we like it or not, children and teens are usually curious
about sexuality. It is part of growing up. As with other areas of
life, it is much better for them to learn the facts from you than to
learn myths from someone else. Encourage them to make informed and
healthy decisions. Make yourself available to them as a listener and
resource in case things to go awry. Try to explain things simply and
clearly, without judging them or lecturing. There are no guarantees
that they won’t rebel, act irresponsibly, or find themselves in
troubling circumstances. These are just some ways to increase their
chances of staying safe, protecting them; otherwise, you are leaving
them to their own devices, or in the hands of strangers to teach
them that which is your right and responsibility as a parent.
Sometimes, you may need additional support or intervention. You
might want to access a local agency or find a counselor or coach
that can help you and your kids succeed and thrive!
Krista Bloom, LCSW, CST Board Certified Clinical Sexologist/Supervisor. You can reach Krista via e-mail: firstname.lastname@example.org;
via website: http://www.healingcouch.com; or via phone: (754) 234-6991