As they grow up, children get curious about their own anatomy. Even toddlers are curious about their anatomy and often touch their genitalia or rub them openly as they are discovering their bodies. Therefore, it is only natural to expect similar curiosity from adolescents. Sex education needs very holistic approaches so the child is not only educated about his/her organs but also about sexual health and sexual intercourse.
In adolescent (10-19 yrs) years children are more likely to experiment with their bodies and sex education at this point is a very effective preventive tool that prevents them from being sexually harmed, abused and indulging in any unsafe sexual intercourse fuelled by curiosity.
The big question at this point is – At what age and how should a child be spoken to about his/her own body and sex.
Parents play a key role in their child’s sex education, which entails not just information about the child’s anatomy but also about sexual intercourse and sexual health. It establishes a very strong foundation for the child’s values, beliefs, and sexual relations as he/she grows up. Since we have already established that children are curious beings, they often resort to sources of information which might not be genuine or may carry incorrect information as well. This is more harmful than not having any information at all.
The birds and the bees conversation is an integral part of parenthood. This conversation is often avoided in India where sex is considered taboo. If you as a parent don’t bridge the gap between your uninformed child and the information he/she deserves to receive from a credible source, you are definitely putting your child at risk.
Sex education is an ongoing process where your child first needs to be assured that his/her body is important and nobody can touch it without their consent. You have to educate them about their anatomy and answer all questions correctly, without using any euphemisms.
Being direct and straightforward is very important. Your child has to be comfortable asking you any questions and should feel like he/she can confide in you. For e.g., Adolescent girls must be educated about menstruation by their mothers to avoid any hygiene-related problems. Similarly, adolescent boys hitting puberty should be spoken to about ‘nightfall’, to avoid any guilt or confusion related to it.
How-to Guide Your Child:
- Be open and straightforward with your child. Don’t use euphemisms. Be as factual as you can while giving information.
- As a parent, you should share your own experiences while growing up and add some emotional context to the conversation. Hence making your child comfortable and able to relate to you.
- Educate your child about the nature of touch. Your child should be able to distinguish between ‘positive touch’ (with consent) and ‘negative touch’ ( without consent). This is very important in order to rule out any confusion the child might have about the nature of touch. So your child can distinguish between affection and sexual abuse. This also lets your child trust you and not shy away from sharing if anything happens.
- Make them understand that nobody can touch them without their consent and they cannot touch someone without their consent either.
- Educate them about the physiological and biological changes happening in their bodies during puberty. For eg, menstruation, growth of pubic hair, etc.
- Your child needs to be told that masturbation is a completely natural activity to engage in. It is, in fact, good for their health as it helps release pent up sexual energy. Make sure your child does not feel guilty for masturbating simply because of the stigma attached to it.
- Speak to your child about sexual intercourse and the intricacies of it. Don’t just dismiss it by saying it is for reproduction. Educate them about the social, moral and physiological implications of sex.
- Educate your child about STDs (Sexually Transmitted Diseases). Educate them properly and tell them how these diseases are spread. Don’t give them partial information as it breeds confusion.
It is important to make this conversation a two-way street, listen to your child as well.
Don’t be judgmental and practice as much patience as you can. This conversation is a very important one and has a great impact on how your child feels about his/her body and sexuality.
Happy talking! 🙂
Author: DrSafeHands editorial team
Get an Online Doctor Consultation for free!Checkout STD package