Timeline for talking to your kids about sex

Welcome to one of the most frustrating subjects to broach when it comes to sharing details with your children, because it’s scary. It’s a whole can of worms that can’t be unopened. But here we are so lets dive in. I thought I would share the timeline and some of the resources I have used where this subject is concerned.

Start with basic anatomy

Ages 0-3

This age range is the perfect time to talk about our anatomy. Having open ongoing conversations about our bodies and how they function reduces the stigma and “embarrassed” feeling we get when we say all three syllables in vagina loud and proud. Always use the correct anatomical names all the time. You and your children will feel more comfortable and confident as you discuss things like body parts and eventually sex. Here are some ways I like to use everyday situations to open up a conversation starter.

  • While changing a diaper I might tell my child “now I am going to clean your penis and scrotum so they can stay healthy.” From there you can go one to explain how only mom’s and dad’s and doctors or guardians *approved by the parents* are allowed to see private parts.
  • What is a private part? “Great question! Private parts are the areas of your body covered by underwear or a bathing suit. An example would be your penis/vagina.” Everyone likes to feel validated and praised especially when asking something they may be unsure about. Try not to negatively react to a question especially if it seems inappropriate so your kids know that they can trust you to take them seriously. If the questions seems appallingly out of their ages realm of understanding call your pediatrician.
See what they say and how much truth there is to their idea of where babies come from

Ages 4-7

The awkward part, going from small child into a full blown kid that can grasp abstract concepts. This is a great time to encourage conversations about sex (yes the real one that landed us here in the first place). I can hear your cries now “okay, but like how the heck do we start, what do we say? How much info is too much info..?” All I can say is that is completely up to you and what you think your child can grasp and how much you want to tie your moral values into your teaching.

Sex

  • We talked about where babies come from, I would ask “Hey, have you heard about where babies come from?” and see what they say and how much truth there is to their idea of where babies come from.
  • Next we discussed how babies are made, this is a great time to start with pollination and bees if you want. Or jump right into mammals, we started with talking about kittens and then mommy. Start with an anatomy recap.
  • Boys have a penis and scrotum, they produce sperm
  • Girls have vaginas that lead to the uterus (special room where the baby can grow!)
  • Girls release an egg on a monthly cycle to maybe have a baby or if there is no baby they get to have a period called menstruation. (you bet your biscuits my boys will know as much as possible about this process as much as their own, I want them to be great husbands someday)
  • When the daddy and mommy join together in a special intimate way God created called intercourse or sex he can place his sperm inside the mommy and the two together make the baby who will grow in mommy’s belly called the womb.
  • Breasts are used to feed a baby

From here you can start asking and answering questions kids may have, usually they don’t finish the whole conversation and they don’t beg for details so don’t feel like you have to tell them the whole nitty-gritty process. Sex is for married persons, it is something special to be shared with your spouse. Intimacy is a special thing which is why mommy and daddy need kids to go to bed on time.

Ages 8-12

By this age there should be a pretty good grasp on the anatomy of themselves and others. Maybe even some basic biology, we may start seeing childhood crushes develop and even early sexual interest. This is a great time to ask them for their understanding of relationships between parents and the difference between something romantic or platonic. Think TV vs. Reality. It is good to help them note the differences in how certain behavior can be perceived as inappropriate: if you take care of the way it looks, you take care of the way it is.

Keep the conversations going and encourage healthy curiosity

This is the time to help ground them in their moral values, whatever that may look like to you. For me that looks like not sharing their bodies and not viewing the bodies of others. Always asking permission for physical contact. Discuss the difficult things like masturbation and pornography that their friends may expose them to or that they may be curious about themselves. I can only give general advice as my children are still fairly young and everyone has a different set of moral values they follow. I hope this was helpful for you as it has been for me, too.

Caarin Torsitano

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