A few days ago my daughter’s preschool had an incident where some of the children below age five were found showing each other their private parts inside the “tunnels” on the playground.
Until this happened it never occurred to me that any explanation was warranted about puberty and sex! After all, they are so young! And as a parent I was so not ready for this! But in light of this incident, it would appear that some honest education about puberty and reproduction needed to happen and that we (their parents) should be the source instead of the playground.
According to kidshealth.org, a child starts to develop a sense of being male or female by the age of 2 or 3. Children start to become aware of the differences between boys and girls and are able to identify themselves as one or the other. This awareness is called gender identity.
Alexandra and Joshua still bath together so they know the differences between male and female bodies. But an only child or children with the same gender siblings will not have that advantage and would be curious to see the differences between them and other children that they associate with.
Teaching Your Child About Sexuality
According to Focus on the Family, the best place for a child to learn about sexuality is at home from those who care most about him.
I agree with Focus on the Family’s advise about parents being the first and most reliable source of information for their children. Most schools will try at some point to educate the children about their puberty and sex. But while this is necessary, the school will only be teaching the bare clinical facts. As parents, it is our responsibility to give our children not only the scientific information but also provide a moral framework and put sex and puberty into the correct context for them.
Without an ethical context, sex education becomes little more than basic training in anatomy, physiology, infectious diseases and contraception. Focus on the Family
How and when we do this is up to us. But given a child’s natural curiosity this should be done sooner rather than later.
Guidelines for talking to your children about sex and puberty
You don’t need to have “the big talk”
Society will make us believe that we need to choose a moment in time when we sit down with our child and in one long marathon session we tell them everything we know about sex. This idea is so old fashioned! According to Focus on the Family, this information should be given to your child in a series of conversations over a period of years.
It makes the next point very important…
Give information on a need-to-know basis
Alexandra asking me how her friends mommy got a baby in her tummy might warrant only a simple explanation like: “The baby grew from a seed inside the mommy’s tummy.” For a 4 year old this would probably be sufficient information and will most likely satisfy her curiosity without any further questions.
Joshua being 7 years old might question how the seed got into the mommy’s tummy in the first place and would require a further explanation.
Allow your child to lead the discussion and you will get a clear impression, based on their questions, about how much to tell them. Only answer the questions that they ask and nothing more. As they develop they will ask for more detail and only then is it OK to tell them more.
Teach them about privacy
Explain to your children which body parts are not for public display. This is also a good opportunity to gently guide them on what is appropriate attention from others. They will need to learn to be aware of what is appropriate to see and to touch with anyone that is not their mom or dad.
The important thing is that we are completely honest and satisfy our childen’s curiosity about puberty and sex while giving only as much information as is necessary. There is no “right time” to do it. The best time to start to gradually educate them is when they develop gender awareness.
Our children will take their direction from their parents in their attitudes towards their bodies so we should have a healthy attitude towards our bodies when talking about it.
Our bodies = God’s masterpiece ( “we are fearfully and WONDERFULLY made” Psalm 139:14).
Also read 40 Astonishing facts about the human body.
Leave a comment to say if you agree or disagree that we should start educating children at a young age about sex and puberty.