If you're hesitating to talk about sex to your child, here's what you MUST be reading!
Parenting expert and author Swati Popat Vats tells you why it is important to give our children a healthy outlook towards sex.
Parents love to teach their children about life, living and everything possible, but one aspect about life is something all parents dread teaching about- sex. Many are complacent that okay, we will face it once the child is nearing puberty, which means we have a good 12 years before we have to worry about talking about – sex.
But a child’s first escapade with sex does not happen with puberty, it starts as early as the preschool years. First, a child becomes aware of his/her sex organs, and then realises that there is a difference between girls and boys and then many of them also become aware of the fact that babies are born from mummy’s stomach.
The ugly term sexual abuse also makes it presence felt more often at this stage, because the perpetrators feel the child will not come to know that anything wrong is being done to him/her.
So parents need to face – sex and sex education – quite early with their children. So what should be the method of interacting with your child about sex and sex related questions? Should we wait for children to ask us or should we make them aware of it? These are common confusions raging in most parents’ minds.
Here I have always relied on German educationist and philosopher Rudolf Steiner’s definition of what children need at each stage of life. According to him from 0 to 7 children learn best and thrive on imitation, from 7 to 14 they learn from authority, which means they need supervision, constant monitoring and a firm hand in rules and regulations and from 14 onwards they need and thrive on independence.
- So keeping the above in mind for parents to develop their rapport with kids about sex education, parents of children in the age group of 0 to 7 need to understand that since children learn by imitation they need to see you having a positive concept about hugging and kissing.
- They will imitate whatever they see, so please let your child sleep separately especially when you and your partner are indulging in sexual activity.
- And lastly they need to develop a positive concept about their genitals, it should not make them feel that genitals are dirty, something to be ashamed about etc.
- They should be taught about ‘manners’ to do with genitals. Girls are taught how to sit without showing their panties and boys about not touching their genitals.
Continue reading on the next page to ensure that your child is safe from sexual abuse!
To ensure that your child is safe from sexual abuse, it is important to teach them about good touch and bad touchh as early as 4 to 5 years. This can be done with a story, a teddy bear etc and they should know basics like
- It is okay to hug someone or if someone hugs you.
- It is not okay to touch someone’s genitals (between their legs) and not okay if someone touches yours
- Only daddy and mummy can touch your genitals if anyone else does then let mummy know
- Do not allow anyone to kiss you on the lips.
- Close the toilet door while doing your ‘wee wee’ and ‘potty’
- We should not put any objects in our genitals
Behaviours that affect children
The N.A.E.Y.C (national association of education of young children- USA) has good material on how children develop their self-concept – research in their journal ‘understanding preschooler development’ by Margaret Puckett and Janet Black - says that:
Some behaviours embarrass or worry adults — such as when children ask direct questions about body parts and functions, giggle about and tease member of the opposite sex, engage in "bathroom talk" or "playing doctor."
However, these are normal behaviours that simply show that children have a growing awareness of the differences between genders. As a parent, it's important that your response to such behaviour is positive, informative, and age-appropriate. Acting shocked or embarrassed or ignoring questions is unhelpful.
As your child enters 7 to 14 years....
So as your child enters the age of 7 to 14, he/she is definitely now more prone to experiencing bodily changes as he/she nears the age of puberty, here as Steiner said authority is what will work, so monitor what your child is watching, reading and talking to friends.
Close supervision is a must. Give him/her the freedom to ask you questions as otherwise, he may get wrong answers from somewhere else.
A child brought up with this kind of focused attention on sexual understanding and sex education, by the time he reaches the age of puberty of 14 years would have a healthy concept of and about sex.
He/she would be able to understand that sex is another need of the body, but a need that cannot be treated as lightly as hunger etc. It is a need that should be understood, something that one has to take responsibility for.
Continue reading on the next page to know how parents should deal with sex education!
This is the right age to talk about sexual diseases, masturbation, AIDS and HIV and pregnancy and condoms. Independence is the ‘mantra’ for this age remember? So put the onus of responsibility on the growing child be vigilant but not overtly so. Call his/her friends over, let him have a party at home and you would be able to gauge the sexual talk etc among his friends.
This is the right age to talk about sexual diseases, masturbation, AIDS and HIV and pregnancy and condoms. Independence is the ‘mantra’ for this age remember?
So put the onus of responsibility on the growing child be vigilant but not overtly so. Call his/her friends over, let him have a party at home and you would be able to gauge the sexual talk etc among his friends.
Sex is something that can be positive, healthy and a conscious part of life or sex can be intimidating, disappointing, give you feeling of being ashamed, but it is up to us as parents that we make sex and its education a continuous part of the growing up years of our child.
Let ‘s not wait for sex to rear its ugly head one day, let's remove the ugliness in sex and make it a controlled and healthy aspect of our kid’s lives.
Be alert about Child sexual abuse
From an early age make children aware of GOOD TOUCH-BAD TOUCH, If young kids can learn about red light, green light and other traffic songs when they are not going to cross the road or drive then it is important to teach them about body safety after all they are learning about body parts!
Let us not refer to it as ‘sex education’ but call it ‘body intelligence’. When we do not give our children a healthy outlook about sex then the 3 letter word becomes a 4 letter word- ‘porn’ and they seek their understanding and knowledge about sex from porn. Let us think sex is just a 3 letter word; instead, let us give our children a healthy outlook about sex.
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