It’s Time For The Sex Talk

When I started this article it began as a “how to” guide for talking with “Tweens” (11-13 Years of age). I started asking around to parents I knew about the challenges they faced or are facing with talking to their kids about sex. It became clear very quickly how many parents were not discussing sex education topics with their younger children. Missed opportunities are hard to make up for later on, it’s harder for the brain to relearn things it’s already learned, whether correct or not. You know your child better than anyone else and it’s important to be there as a support and a resource for their inquiries. Why not go on a journey of discovery together? Have them ask you the questions, be open minded, forget the judgements for a minute.

Sex education should begin when a child begins the stage of self-awareness around the age of 2. This a critical stage in any child’s development. Now I am sure many of you reading this are thinking “what could a 2-year-old learn about sex?”… the answer is a lot. Most of it isn’t something to “talk” about, as they are just too young to comprehend. However, it is still important you as parents can foster a safe space for them to discover their own sexuality and pleasure, alone and in the privacy of their own bedroom.

Pivotal Development

When a child is around the age of 2 they begin to be aware of who they are around, they begin mentally mapping the people they know and are around often. All of this is learning trust. They are finding their limits along with their likes and dislikes when it comes to interacting with others. This particular point in a child’s personal development is a perfect time to instil the power of consent and reinforce the fact that their body is theirs and theirs alone. This is as simple as helping them to decide when a hug is wanted and is most appropriate. Kissing family and friends isn’t something to be forced. Don’t take it personally when your toddler doesn’t want to hug or kiss another relative or close friend. They are working out in their heads who and where they can trust/give consent. While it might seem like telling them to hug someone is helping them to know who is ok to hug, it’s actually doing the opposite.  Forcing a toddler to hug someone is telling them that their body is not their own and that someone else has authority over them.

In no way am I saying that your 2-year-old is better equipped to make the decision of who to trust, I am simply saying to give them the opportunities to work it out for themselves, this development will continue to build a strong sense of their ownership over themselves!

Starting the Conversations

As toddlers grow into children and into pre-teens it is imperative as parents to be there, now I’m not talking about being there as support. I am referring to being along with your child on their journey. The biggest tip I can give when it comes to talking with your kids about Sex is USE the media! Whenever you are with them and the topic comes up on the TV, Radio etc. start talking about what it is. Open a dialogue, show them YOU want to talk about these things and that it’s not “weird”. If you can take the “taboo” out of sex and puberty then, of course, they will want to talk to you, they have a million burning questions. And don’t worry at this age aside from a few bombshell questions they will be vague for the most part. The bombshells they ask will require your honesty, but also your own discretion as to what they will fully understand.

These years can be the hardest as a child’s interest in such topics will vary from day to day. Sex isn’t necessarily a top priority to sort out as they are figuring out the rest of life, but the curiosities are still there and it’s important for a parent to ensure their child/children always have a safe open communication about these topics. It’s why I stress so much to parents open dialogue when sexual topics arise on media.

Teen Talk

Now for the REAL talk with tweens. If you’re one of those families trying to live in the progressive lane on this highway of life. If you’re one of those parents who finds it hard to strike up the embarrassing conversations about body changes and strange feelings. You shouldn’t feel bad or inadequate, these conversations are pivotal and of course AWKWARD!

I have been working in sex education for a number of years now and have spoken with countless families and teenagers going through this “phase” of life. But let’s face it, there is no one right way to talk to teenagers about sex. I know it’s hard to believe but teenagers are people too, and they vary from one to another just like partners in the dating pool.

If you can prepare yourself for some vulgarity and the brash reality of teenage puberty get ready. NETFLIX has brought out a new show which is garnering a lot of attention at the moment for its NSFW tone… BIG MOUTH comes to us from the same pair who worked on Family Guy. And while most of the show is a satirical take on the life and problems tweens face during puberty, this show presents the obscure and irrational of puberty emotions. Creators Nick Kroll and Andrew Goldberg capture the real struggle this age group go through and perhaps how oblivious their parents and surrounding family are to their struggle.

Netflix TV Show Big Mouth
Buy Now | Sexual Health Store With Condoms

I would suggest watching the show first as Parent(s) without the child or children and then watch it again with your tween(s). Make sure you take the time to laugh so they know you’re comfortable. You might think that because they call for you when you’re on the toilet or walk into your bedroom without knocking that they are comfortable with you. When it comes to their body and their feelings they are LOST! So many questions, so much information coming at them from friends at school, the internet etc. Watching this show together will give them instant access to ask you questions about concepts they have never heard or don’t understand. It will also allow you to ask them questions you might otherwise be embarrassed to ask. (It’s ok to be embarrassed, and it’s more ok to ask the embarrassing questions).

If this show is too much for you or you think too much for your tween, then stick with my first suggestion of incorporating the media around you. It’s almost 2018 the topics of Sex and Health are more and more prevalent in mainstream media. Use it to start conversations and questions. Don’t let their laissez-faire attitude tell you they don’t have burning questions inside because they do!

As usual, I am always a short message away from answering any of your questions. Find me on Instagram, Twitter or Google+.  Just search krizpatrick!

Author: Patrick Kriz- BA, Psych (HON)- Human Sexuality

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