Talk to Your Preschooler about Sex


884206_children_playing.jpgA few weeks ago, I wrote a post called “Talk to Your Teens” (and it probably should have been titled “Talk to your Children”). It was about the importance of talking to your kids about sex. How do you talk about sex with your children? When should you talk about sex with your children? Why should you talk about sex with your children? Erm…misplaced modifier. Not talking about “sex with children”…talking with your children about sex, rather. Hm…may have dug a hole with that one.

But I digress.

The important thing here is that kids know about sex long before parents think they are “ready.” Life doesn’t care if they’re ready. So, being a pro-active parent is extremely important.

I say this not having any kids of my own yet. But, I do like to think that this is how I will raise my kids someday. Sex is a part of my life, just like it is a part of your life, and although we blog about our sexual experiences, we find it tough to talk to kids about it (in an appropriate way or course).

This is the start of a little series I’m going to do called “Talk to Your Kids.” When middle schools are giving out birth control to 12-year-olds, there is a problem. I can’t change the world, but maybe I can help a few readers (is anyone out there?) think about how they speak with their children.

Today’s post: How to Talk to Your Preschooler about Sex.

I say “preschooler” meaning any kid under about 6. So, preschool and kindergarten really. That young age when Sesame Street is still the bee’s knees. Did I really just say “bee’s knees”? Sigh. I am my mother.

Anyway, I think a lot of parents make the same mistake when it comes to this age group, and that mistake is in not talking about sex at all. Now, before you get your panties in a knot, understand that I’m not advocating teaching your daughter how to give a blow job at age 4 or teaching your son the finer points of doggie style at age 5. I mean, give me a break. A child at that age can’t comprehend how or why that happens. They’re still learning to tie their shoes.

But they do understand that people have babies. They understand that it takes a mommy and daddy to make a baby and that the baby grows inside the mommy until she gives birth. They understand that boys and girls have different bodies. And don’t underestimate your preschooler. By the time he or she hits about age 4 or 5, your child also understands that the bedroom is involved in babies somehow.

I remember being about 5 and playing house with my friend. We used to put the babies under our shirts to pretend we were pregnant. But, we knew that first the mommy and daddy had to decide to have the baby. We knew that this happened with sex, but we didn’t know want sex meant. We thought that maybe sex we sleeping together for a long time in the same bed with someone who wanted to have a baby with you. We thought that’s why our parents got up so early in the morning - they didn’t want to sleep in the same bed long enough to have a baby. We thought that maybe if you slept in bed together all day and all night, you’d have twins. So, during our play we’d “have sex” to become pregnant. We’d lay on my bed and pretend that there was a boy in bed too. Then, we’d stuff the doll under our shirt and be pregnant.

Sounds a bit silly, but what were we supposed to think? Sex was a bad, dirty word that grown-ups used, and no one ever explained to us that we were different. So, we brainstormed and that’s the story we came up with.

Who knows what story your kids will come up with? I’ve heard kids think that you could get pregnant by holding hands or kissing. Some understand that being naked is a part of it. Kids at that age might do or say things that are unhealthy because they don’t understand. Growing up, there was a girl in my first grade class that wanted a baby of her own because her mommy and daddy said they weren’t having any more. She thought that if a boy saw you naked in your bedroom, you got pregnant. So, one day when she had some friends over playing, her and one of the boys in the neighborhood got naked in her parent’s bedroom. To this day, I don’t think her mom knows about that. Do you want your 6-year old doing that…or something worse?

I don’t.

So here’s my recommendation: have a preliminary “talk.” You don’t have to talk about the nitty gritty things involving sex, but your kid needs to know where babies initially come from. I personally think that at this age you should explain the following things:

  • A boy has a penis and a girl has a vagina. You can call these by whatever cute names you want.
  • These parts are “private.” You shouldn’t show them to anyone else without mommy or daddy’s permission. (You’ll have to give permission at a doctor’s, for example.)
  • It takes a boy and a girl to have a baby.
  • It is impossible to have a baby until you’re grown up.
  • A baby is made when an adult boy’s and adult girl’s private parts touch and they love one another.This is called sex. (Use discretion here. You may want to ask your child if he/she has heard of sex or if he/she can tell you where babies come from. Remember, every child matures at a different rate, so your 4 year or might know as much as someone else’s 6 year old.)
  • Not everyone who loves one another should have a baby, because you have to be really, really responsible.
  • Other kids their age may not know about sex. It is important that if anyone has questions, they talk to an adult right away. Make sure that your child understands that sex is private and you’re trusting him/her to not talk about it with others.
  • When you grown up, you’ll understand more and want to know more about sex, and at that time, talk to mommy or daddy.

By talking to your child at a young age, you’re setting a good foundation for a respectful attitude toward sex. This isn’t something casual that 13-year-olds should be doing. As adults, we can have fun blogging about sex, but until we’re old enough to make decisions regarding sex, it should be something that isn’t on our daily “to do” list. They should also understand that people they think they can trust (like teachers or religious leaders) sometimes make bad decisions, and they should always talk to mommy or daddy if they think that they’ve been asked to do something private.

Talk to your preschoolers. They know more than you think.

For more information about parenting (and especially about sexual safety for kids), check out Teacher Smackdown, Mom is Teaching, and Parenting our Children.

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