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When to teach kids about sex?

post #1 of 16
Thread Starter 
I'm sometimes surprised to find out that kids haven't learned anything about sex at what seems to me like pretty advanced ages to lack that knowledge.

I start talking about sex in one way or another starting very young, when I'm bathing my kids at very young ages. At that age, I talk about how our bodies belong to ourselves and no one has a right to touch them in a way they don't like.

By the time they were 4, both of my kids asked questions and got enough answers to know everything about where babies come from. My 4-year-old has a copy of It's Not the Stork that we've read repeatedly.

My older one got It's So Amazing by about 6, and then It's Perfectly Normal around 10. We talk about sex and sexuality on a regular basis starting from a young age and add information as it becomes relevant/as they can understand it.

It's important to me to talk about sexuality and gender pretty young so that if a child of mine is LGBT that they'll know what it is and know they're loved and supported in our family as they are. There are kids books about different kinds of families that can introduce that topic. "A family can have two moms or dads?"

I don't have a rule about specifically when, but my general feeling is that earlier is better than later, and I follow their questions.

Does anyone have any strong feelings about what age is right for different kinds of discussions about sex and sexuality?
post #2 of 16
I will talk about it from day one. My goal is to not make sex "taboo" in our home. I honestly don't get the idea of hiding it until "the big talk". It's just sex! Nothing wrong with it. After all, sex is what brought them into this world. It's a miracle and we treat it like some deep, dark enemy. I don't understand that.
post #3 of 16

sex is such a huge umbrella term i feel for so many aspects of it. 


awareness of body function

personal safety 

how babies are made



emotional aspect of sex


out of these i would only introduce the last stuff without dd asking.


otherwise i'd only talk about personal safety and none of the others IF dd didnt bring it up.


however no matter what age - if she asked i would scientifically explain everything as i did. but i would never introduce it without her asking - until she was 10 and hadnt asked and its an age where wierd info gets out on the play field. 


i made one mistake - so into the sex thing that i forgot about the practical implications of puberty. i always took for granted i would be around to help dd. but she started on the only week she is away from me at summer camp. the girls and women really helped her out, but she could have been better informed about the logistics of it. 


gender issues were a part of our life, so i never had to bring it up.

post #4 of 16
Responding so I can keep track of this thread.

So far we have answered DD1's questions as she's asked them. She knows most body parts now. We talk about touching and it being ok to say no to any sort of touching, even a hug from someone you love if you don't want one at that moment.

She knows babies grow in their mummy's uterus but she has never asked how they get there so we haven't talked about that yet. I guess she was a bit young when her sister was born. If it doesn't come up soon I guess I will introduce it though because she starts kindy next year and I don't want her to hear it from another kid first. I might just get Its Not The Stork and put it in the bookcase.
post #5 of 16
Originally Posted by meemee View Post

sex is such a huge umbrella term i feel for so many aspects of it. 


awareness of body function

personal safety 

how babies are made



emotional aspect of sex


out of these i would only introduce the last stuff without dd asking.


otherwise i'd only talk about personal safety and none of the others IF dd didnt bring it up.


That's a good breakdown of topics, meemee. 


I believe in following children's lead with this, so my children know a lot about some things, and not much about others. DD knew about periods at age 4, but now at almost 7 she doesn't know how babies are made. She knows they grow in a woman's uterus though. A close family friend just had a baby so she had plenty of opportunity to ask about it, but didn't.


DS is completely uninterested in any of this. 


I do make sure we talk regularly about personal safety and as they get older, I get more in depth about it. 


They know tons about death, though, for some reason that's more interesting to them. 

post #6 of 16

I'd much rather they get it from me than school friends. DS came home with the info that "the boy sticks his penis in the girls butt". So a lot of discussion about that, about the vagina and uterus, why the butt would be impractical for growing a baby.... When they were really little, it was the differences between DS and DDs bodies, then menstruation - that gets talked about tons as they are always coming in the toilet with me and I bleed A LOT. Actually that's probably my own fault, as they always did it so much when they were little that I just left the door open, and now they are 7 and 9 and I am still leaving the door open. 

post #7 of 16

When kids are ready for science, they are ready for a scientific explanation of sex. Ive often included scientific literature as bedtime reading for my kids starting age 3ish 4ish (age appropriate of course) Flowers, dinosaurs, seasons, solar system, animals in general and more. Then when  a little older, 4ish 5ish, magic school bus books-electricity,insects, weather,  light,  human digestion, etc. Included in this was the occasional book on the basics of reproduction-sperm and egg, pregnancy, uterus, birth etc. I havent gone into  the more complex side of sex, like pleasure, consent, love relationships etc. But we'll get there when they ask the questions. I have mentioned  a married couple, or a couple in love might have sex  as an expression of love, but i still feel that is a bit beyond their comprehension,  and is more about love itself, than about  sex.

post #8 of 16

Hey Ladies,


Thanks for the list of books! That's exactly what I've been looking for. :nod My DD is 7, nearly 8, and we haven't had a lot of discussions because she hasn't brought stuff up. She was 4 when DS was born, and was awake for it (homebirth), though I don't know how much she remembers. She's been in the bathroom when I had my period, so we've had some discussions there - as much about menstrual products as anything. When her preschool was talking about sponges, she tried to tell them about mine. The teacher's caught on before the kids (fortunately).

post #9 of 16

I've been wondering about this too. My oldest is five and never asked about sex or how babies are made which I find odd because he asks questions about EVERYTHING. He knows all the body parts and we have talked about personal safety and how his own body works. He knows what an erection is, but not why it happens. I guess I have been waiting for him to ask before I bring it up, but now I am wondering if I should bring it up before he gets some inaccurate info at school. Any opinions on when I should stop waiting for it to come up and bring it up myself?

post #10 of 16
Originally Posted by Saf View Post

When her preschool was talking about sponges, she tried to tell them about mine. The teacher's caught on before the kids (fortunately).


post #11 of 16

So excited to see this thread!  I have been looking for some help on this topic for awhile help.gif I am a single mama with a beautiful 6 yr old boy, and we share a pretty open communication relationship.  We have discussed proper names for body parts, and some on personal safety (I need to add to this, clearly!), as well as some behavior that is more appropriate for an older age.  What shocks me is that he has come home from school with stories or questions about sex since he was in kindergarten, that he heard from the other kids!  I always try to answer his questions in a way that is satisfying but not over informative for what he's asking.  I think that with it just being the two of us I am really motivated to maintain open communication about anything so that he doesn't feel a (larger) need to hide things in the preteen and teen years.  

post #12 of 16

My daughter is three and while she hasn't asked any questions about where babies come from and how they get out etc., the only thing I would be worried about when answering her is how to tell it on her level. I think I'm the only one of my friends, tho, to teach her the correct names for body parts. Boys have a penis, girls have a vagina. I didn't actually find out what sex was until 11 or 12, and then through a romance novel. Talk about a shock. Definitely want my daughter to know sooner than that. I think I should've at least been told when i got my first period at 9.

post #13 of 16

I've been thinking about this as well. My boys are 5 and 7, and while part of me thinks the earlier they know the better, I'm also worried about them making inapropriate comments to other kids. As it is, they think penises and anuses are pretty darn funny, and I can easily imagine them saying to someone, "I'm going to put my penis in your vagina. Giggle giggle." For those of you who have explained the anatomical process to young children, have you had this problem?


I also have a follow-up question that's been on my mind. At what age do you tell girls about the clitoris? It seems very misogynistic to me that while boys hear about the body part that is sexually pleasurable to them, the penis, from a very young age, all most little girls get to know about is the vagina and maybe the vulva.

post #14 of 16

my dd knew about everything by the time she was 4 1/2 but the conversations started at 2. the closest dd has come to was tell her ps teacher at 3 that she must be happy - now that she is pregnant - not to be bleeding anymore since that blood is being used to make the baby. 


but i have found the more i answer dd's questions the more matter of fact the topic becomes. i still deal with poo and pee jokes sometimes but its never been about sex or body parts. 


kbluspiro - i am not so sure about your question. how is it misogynistic? no one is talking about pleasure. they are talking about body parts. one of them just happens to be pleasure and the whole body part all wrapped in one. how is a clitoris any different from the labia.  dd has seen an anatomical drawing of the whole female organ - actually both male and female and the whole reproductive system. i am not sure the clitoris stands out for her. its just another body part. however one thing really fascinated her when she was young. how the labia in women are shaped like flowers. she has seen casts of them.  

post #15 of 16



I like this book to help kids see different gender/sexuality realtionships.

post #16 of 16

My children have been exposed to 'sex' in the same way many have mentioned- they were present at my homebirths so they are VERY aware of the childbirth process and 'where babies come from'; they also know about menstruation from the bathroom.  We've always explained that a man and woman make a baby, then that the woman has an egg and the man has sperm that make the baby.  To address the emotional/spiritual side of sex, we talk about how when a man and a woman are married they become one and share everything- their bank accounts, a bed, a house, even their bodies.  (disclaimer: Obviously this reflects our Christian beliefs.)  Once they are old enough to be aware of sexuality they naturally put two an two together- for my oldest it was a very natural and normal progression.  He did have some creative ideas about how the sperm and egg joined before he worked out the actual mechanics.  I think this gradual reveal of sexuality helped him to see it as a matter of fact progression and to understand it in the context that reflects our personal beliefs and values- as a part of childbearing and marriage.  I hope it's as simple for the rest of our younger children who haven't quite made those logical leaps yet (and aren't interested or ready to do so!)

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