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Health & Parenting

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How to Talk to Your Kids About Sex

Experts Share Tips for Parents

Tip No. 3: View Current Events as an Opportunity

Whether it's the success of Juno, a movie about teen pregnancy, or the pregnancy of 16-year-old Jamie Lynn Spears, star of the TV show Zoey 101, Saltz says to "view these as an opportunity to discuss something that may now feel more personally relevant to your children. If your child asks why Zoey [the character played by Spears] is saying good-bye, talk [to them] about being responsible, the facts about intercourse, and the ways in which it changes you and your life," she says.

Tip No. 4: Don't Use Yourself as the Example

When you are explaining sexual intercourse between partners, don't use yourself as an example, Hoffman says. Instead, "use generic examples as most children don't want to hear about mommy and daddy in that context."

Tip No. 5: Talk About the Different Types of Sex

When the time is right, parents need to talk with their children about oral sex and anal sex because these types of sex can also put them at risk for STDs, Saltz says.

Tip No. 6: Don't Leave Anything Out

"Kids are sexual beings with sexual feelings," Saltz says, so masturbation and sexual fantasy should be a part of the ongoing dialogue. Parents should let their children know that it is OK to masturbate, she says, but that it should be done privately. Some children may masturbate excessively, and parents need to ask how much is too much because constant masturbating may be a sign of anxiety.

"Many parents would never broach the topic of sexual fantasy, but kids have sexual fantasies, [and] parents can be very reassuring to their children by letting them know this is normal," Saltz says.

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