All children have sexual feelings. These feelings are a normal part of growth and development.
Talking about sex can be awkward, but the earlier you start the discussion, the better prepared your child will be to make safer decisions about it. And your child may be better able to deal with peer pressure and media influences as he or she gets older.
If you are unsure of how to begin such a conversation, use everyday situations as an icebreaker. Use examples on TV or a teen's pregnancy to start a discussion. You can practice talking about sex with your partner, a friend, or another parent. If you feel that you can't talk to your child about sex, ask your doctor, a trusted aunt or uncle, or a religious leader to do it. If you wait for others-friends, school staff, or another adult-to address sex, you do your child a disservice.
Movies, TV, music lyrics, music videos, websites, and more can affect how your child thinks and behaves.1, 2 Talk to your child about how the media can have an impact on him or her. Be aware that children have easy access to many websites with sexual or pornographic content. Keep the computer in a shared area where you can see what your child is doing online.
Talking to your son or daughter about sex
Before middle school
Whether they are sexually active or not, children need help to make responsible choices about sex. Talking about sex does not encourage sexual activity in children. Some studies show that talking openly and honestly about sex can prevent teenage pregnancy.3 Having an open, honest relationship with your child will largely depend on the quality of the relationship you have built to this point.
The best time to begin the discussion about sex is when your child is in elementary school. A good way to start is to admit that talking about sex may be awkward, but that your child should not ever be afraid to ask you questions. Discussing sex and sexuality with your child is not a one-time conversation, though. As he or she grows and matures, your child naturally has questions about sexuality. The more you can give guidance, the better prepared your child will be to make responsible decisions.
Your local library, church or synagogue, or organizations such as Planned Parenthood will have information to help you talk to your kids about sex and family life issues.