How To Answer Your Child's Questions About Sex

“Where do babies come from?” How many of you dread this question from your kid? If you're preparing for the ‘big talk’ about sex and sexuality with your kid, this article will definitely help.

By Renita Siqueira

How To Answer Your Child's Questions About Sex

As children grow, they begin to notice that boys and girls are not similar. The differences and the changes taking place in their body, make children feel puzzled. As a result, they begin asking questions to put their doubts to rest. Some of the questions children often ask are "Where do babies come from?" or "Why do boys/girls behave in a certain way?" or "What are contraceptives?"

Such questions are natural and should be answered in a sensitive manner. However, most parents are uncomfortable with questions related to sex. This may be because parents are unprepared or do not know how to answer their children the right way.

Prepare yourself

As a parent, you need to feel comfortable about engaging in sensitive and age-appropriate conversations with your child on the topic. For this, you can seek guidance from friends, read books, browse through websites and attend workshops. This will help you understand how to have an open conversation with your child in a relaxed and informative manner. Your approach will also encourage your child to talk to you, rather than seek information from unreliable sources, or ask peers.

What you should remember

It is of utmost importance to be open and honest with your child while talking about sex. However, you can filter your answers depending on the age and your child's level of understanding. If you don’t know the answer to a particular question, assure your child that you will look it up and get back to her. Also, remember that the ‘birds and bees’ talk isn't a one-time conversation but a series of small interactions that need to take place as your child grows.

Doubts children usually have

1. Human anatomy: It is important to have a conversation with your child from the point of view of basic sex education. You can begin with human anatomy — naming the different parts of the body of both males and females. You can explain puberty and the changes it causes in boys, such as hair growth and erections; and in girls, such as hair growth, development of breasts and menarche. Look for conversation-starters in daily life like commercials with sexual connotations. Explain the difference between safe and unsafe touch. Tell your child that no one should touch her private parts without her consent, unless it is the doctor doing an examination. But, emphasise that you or your spouse should also be present on such occasions.

2. Where do babies come from? A younger child can be told that babies grow from an egg in the mother’s womb. You can point to the stomach to make him understand the position of the womb in the body. Explain that when babies are ready to come into the world, they come out through the mother’s vagina. If your child is older and asks more questions, you can take the conversation forward, one question at a time. You can clarify that when a man and woman love each other and have sex, the man’s sperm joins the woman’s egg and gradually begins to grow inside the womb and develops into a baby.

3. What does having sex mean? Explain to your child that when two individuals feel attracted towards each other, they display their affection in many ways. Physical touch and sex are two of them. Sex is associated with physical pleasure, deep emotional connection and reproduction. If your child is a little older, nearing his teens, you can ask whether your response answered his question. If he would still like to know more, then using appropriate names of body parts, explain that sex is all about two individuals becoming physically intimate with their genitals. It is important to name the body parts correctly to avoid creating an atmosphere of embarrassment or shame. Also, using code words for body parts may confuse children.

4. Does sex hurt? It is possible that your child may have seen some inappropriate pictures or videos and interpreted the actions in them as acts of aggression. For a younger child, you can simply say that sex is meant to be an enjoyable experience between grown-ups. You should also explain that sex should happen only when both grown-ups want to do it willingly and feel good about it. It should not be forced, as then it would be hurtful and scary. Through such examples, you also teach your child about the importance of consent, saying ‘No’. Here, you can also teach them about not touching others without their permission.

5. What’s an orgasm? What you should say — to a younger child, explain orgasm as a good feeling that grown-ups, both men and women, experience in their genital area. If your child is a little older and wants to know more, you can say that it's a feeling of build-up and release during the act of sex.

If your child is around 10 years old and hasn’t asked you anything about sex yet, broach the topic gently. Explain in simple terms and encourage your child to ask questions. These conversations go a long way in strengthening the parent–child relationship. Remember, well-informed children tend to make better and safer choices in life.

Renita Siqueira is the Communications Officer at Safecity and writes poetry in her spare time.

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