Movie watching with the family has always been fun. But remember how uncomfortable we used to be when a kissing or sensual scene popped up on the screen? Most of us have never had a sex education session with our parents. Maybe our parents didn’t know how to talk about sex to kids.
Back then social media wasn’t that prominent. It was either our siblings or friends who introduced us to the topic. And today, with access to several channels, and of course, Netflix, it is all the more important for parents to talk about sex with their kids, because there are high chances that they might misinterpret and get in trouble.
And one more thing that all parents should understand is that sex talk isn’t all about making out.
According to a senior psychiatrist at Wockhardt Hospitals, Mumbai, Dr Sonal Anand, young kids are more interested in conception and pregnancy, rather than the act itself. Even some adolescents might not be interested in the mechanics of the act, they are intrigued when the sex talk happens with friends.
She suggests that parents should assess the children and start imparting knowledge, according to their age and level of understanding. And eventually, they should build up conversations during adolescence.
“The “sex talk “ is not one single uncomfortable session with the child, but is a gradual journey. The younger child should be taught that all body parts are equally important. Taking care of all the parts by washing and following good hygiene is how one can also stay fit,” shares Dr Anand.
First and foremost, there is nothing to be ashamed about because if you don’t keep them posted, they are anyways going to find it out.
Here are some steps:
– Be calm and ready with a little literature. If your friends have done this earlier, consulting them can really help.
– Make your kids comfortable and help them understand that the word ‘sex’ isn’t bad.
– Be ready for some questions.
– Choose a place. Maybe you can plan a lunch or some special scenario but ensure the environment is cozy.
– Get in touch with your kid’s teacher to understand whether s/he has been taught anything about sex in school or not. This will help you to set up a platform to start.
– Understand what you need to reveal and what’s not necessary.
It is a good practice to call genital parts by their actual names rather than made-up names, so that the child does not learn to shame sexual organs. Situational teaching, according to age, must be encouraged. A pre-teen should know about physical and hormonal changes so that he/ she does not get scared of nocturnal ejaculations or monthly periods.
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Most of the schools do impart basic sex education, so the parent could revise with the kid. It always helps to initiate age-appropriate subjects while watching TV together or during outdoor family time. Sometimes, news and media cover abuse crimes widely.
That is the best time to talk about safe sexual practices to elder kids and the importance of avoiding being sexually led into a relationship and abuse. Information regarding online sexual abuse is one topic that should not be missed.
The importance of setting rules for screens and content should be emphasized on a frequent basis. If you feel your child has seen something that makes her/ him uncomfortable, make sure you discuss “grown-up “things on the internet. Children should not indulge in sites meant for grownups, and this should be done in a non-threatening manner.
Children and adolescents who have the right kind of information from parents are known to have higher emotional quotients and better adaptive skills. It does not promote promiscuity. Good sex education helps adolescents prepare for the future. Since sexual activity is a natural part of life, growing children need to learn correct information from the right sources.
If parents don’t talk about healthy sex, children will definitely rely on other sources like friends or the internet, which may not always be correct. Moreover, most importantly, it may not be personalized, as the way someone relays information and processes it varies from person to person.
“Parents are the most important influencers for a child’s behavior and future decisions. The way a person reacts to a situation is mostly taught or adapted by copying the parent. So, it becomes the parent’s added responsibility to teach the child about safe sexual behavior. This causes less conflict in the mind after adolescence and better decision-making, while facing a sexual dilemma,” suggests Dr Anand.
Children need to be informed about various sexual orientations, so that they know what to expect. Acceptance of other people’s orientation should be emphasized to remove bias regarding natural things like being gay/bisexual.
One of the most important reasons for having sex talk is the safety of the child and preventing sexual misadventures in the future. Even ongoing sexual abuse can be put to an end, when parents speak about good touch and bad touch to the younger kids.
The bottom line is: sex talk isn’t a one-time thing. At every age, you need to introduce your kid to what they need to know. The earlier you start, the better it is.