How to Talk about Sex to Your Child
What to expect at the 3-4-years of age
Young children identify a lot with people of their sex. Neither the boys nor the girls like to be confused with children of the opposite sex, and naturally, they begin to detect differences in their bodies.
It is at this stage when children also begin to ask where they come from, especially if there’s a little brother on the way.
It is natural that at this age children want to know more about their bodies, and those of their parents. And as you know, they’re not ashamed to ask. Rather, it is dads who blush when children question them about these issues. It is common for many parents to prefer to avoid the issue.
It is impossible for a young child to understand all the related details are sex, and it is not necessary to do so. Also, explanations about erections, menstruation, childbirth, and other natural functions of the body could scare you.
How to talk about the topic
When your little boy asks questions about sex and other complex issues, it’s best to answer in the most peaceful and direct way that you don’t think it’s embarrassing to talk to you about certain issues. That, of course, is easier said than done.
If you think it will be very difficult to talk about sex with your little boy, you can rehearse your answers, either picturing the conversation or practice with your partner. Take advantage of moments of tranquility with your child to talk about it. Like, for example, while you are having a puzzle or snack time.
Car rides can also be a good opportunity to talk about sensitive issues. This way you will not look directly at your child, which may be less stressful to you.
“The important thing is that parents are not nervous when they talk to their children about difficult issues,” suggests Jerome Kagan, a professor of psychology at Harvard University. “The child is capturing the tone of what they say, not the words.”
Give simple explanations
For children of this age, the best answers are the shortest and easiest. For example, if your little boy wants to know where he came from, you can say, “you formed in Mom’s belly and there you grew up until you were ready to be born.”
It is recommended that you name the body parts correctly you mention (penis and vagina, and not words like “pipi” and “Tickle”). It will eliminate the notion that sexual matters are forbidden or shameful.
A 3-year-old will be fully satisfied with a simple answer. While a 4-year-old may want to know more and ask questions like the following: “Did Joaquin grow in daddy’s belly?” or “When is my little sister going to come out?” Answer your child, as long as he continues to show interest, but do not give him too much information if you see that he is ready to build his puzzle.
Encourage the trust in you
No matter what your child asks, try not to react abruptly with a “Where did you get that?” Don’t avoid the conversation by saying, “Then I’ll explain; now we’re going to eat.” Your little boy might think his questions are taboo, and that he’s a bad boy for thinking about those things. Instead of blaming or distracting him, he commends his interest by saying, “What a good question!” (You will also have a few moments to think about your answer.) At the end of the conversation, Motívalo saying, “Ask me more questions anytime, Sonny.”
Of course, you never know when the next question will be. Your child may ask you what a vagina is in the tail of the supermarket. If that happens, answer in a low voice and explain that it is best to talk about the private parts of your body when you are at home and even if that situation is shameful for you, try not to discourage it.
Your little one needs to know that he can honestly talk to you about any subject. It is fundamental, not only during their childhood but also when adolescence comes and beyond.
Take advantage of every opportunity
You don’t have to wait for your child to start asking you questions. You’ve probably already taught her something about sexuality and reproduction by pointing to the mother goat who breastfeeds her cabrito at the zoo.
There are also many children’s books and videos that can help you explain to your child how babies are born (an example is “Mom put an egg,” by Babette Cole).
Show him the meaning of “privacy”
Your child can understand that we all have a right to privacy, and can also learn that when your room door is closed, you have to play before you enter. Make sure you also do the same when your room door is closed.
At this age, your child is probably not very interested in having privacy (you may even prefer to have company when you go to the bathroom), but you will understand the standard of knocking on the door before entering if you obey it. You can also learn that your private parts are private and that no one should touch them except Mom, Dad, Nanny or doctor; And only to help you after you go to the bathroom or during a medical examination.
What children ask and what parents answer
“Where did I come from?”
This cosmic and at the same time the mundane question is usually the first thing children do about life. A simple and straightforward answer would be: “You formed inside mom’s belly, and there you grew up until you were ready to be born.” Some children will want more details, and in that case, you could say: “A seed of dad and mom’s egg got together and formed a new little: you!” “Then you grew up in a special bag called a uterus that’s inside mom’s belly.”
Some logical questions that will follow are: “Is that how all babies are made?” (Your answer: “Yes, all babies like you and the babies of many animals are born this way”). And before “Can dads have babies?”, your reply may be: “No.” “Babies can only grow within the bodies of women.”
“What is sex?”
Most young children only ask this question when they see or hear something about the subject (usually from an older brother’s mouth or on television). If your child asks you this question, answer it without penalty. You can tell him that “sex is a kind of hug that moms and dads give to show how much they love each other.”
If your little boy asks for more details, you can say: “Sex is a way for adults who want a lot to be as close as possible to each other, to hug and kiss in a very special way.” “Sometimes a man and a woman can start making a baby when they have sex.” Other questions that children of this age could do include: “Can I have sex myself too?” or “Why do you have sex?”
“Can you show me how babies are made?”
Once your child learns about the “special form” that moms and dads have to kiss and hug to make babies, I may ask you for a live demo. In that case, he responds kindly and directly: “No.” “Moms and dads only make babies when they’re alone in their privacy times.”
“Can I make a baby?”
It is your chance to talk about the different abilities of the bodies of children and adults. “No, only adults can make babies.” “Your body isn’t ready yet, but it will be when you grow up.” Another question might be, “How come we don’t make a baby when you kiss me and hug me?” The answer could be: “Because the way they hug and kiss adults when they are making a baby is very different from the way I embrace you and I kiss you, and because only two adult bodies can make a baby.”
“How’s the baby going to get out of your tummy?”
Children are fascinated by pregnancy and birth. Some believe that the mother will vomit the baby, or that the father will open the zipper of the mother’s stomach so that the little brother runs away. The simplest answer is: “After a long time, the baby gets too big to stay in Mom’s belly, and then he has to be born.”
Many little children will understand an explanation of, “Our baby is ready to be born when he needs more food than he has in mom’s tummy.” Then Dad will take mom to the hospital, and the doctors will help him get the baby born. “Granny will take care of you for two or three days, and then mom comes home with the baby, and we’ll all be together.”
“What are you and dad doing?”
Many parents are terrified to think that their child can catch them having sex. It’s something that happens to a lot of couples. It is also practically impossible not to get nervous if it happens, but try (and then put a lock on the door of your room).
You can say, “Dad and I need a moment of privacy.” “If you go back to your room, I’ll help you in an instant.” Then put on your robe, take a deep breath, makeup and talk to your little boy. “Dad and I were demonstrating how much we love each other.” We generally lock the door, because it is something that is done in private, but this time we forgot.
Depending on how your child reacts, you might ask him, “Are you upset?” or “Do you need anything else?” Make sure your child is not scared or worried about what he saw, and recálcale that he didn’t do anything wrong (don’t repack it by saying, “You should have called before you entered!”).
Your child’s reaction might vary between disgust (“Dad was hurting you?”) and Curiosity (“Why did they make those noises?” or “Were they struggling?”).
If it seems your boy didn’t care what he saw, don’t give him too many explanations. Maybe he didn’t get to see much, if the room was dark or if you were under the sheets. Just say, “Mom and Dad were enjoying a special time together” or “we were hugging because we love each other a lot.”