In this week’s ’10 Ways to’, our series of weekly parenting tips, we look at how to support your child’s sex education.
Your role as a parent in your child’s education about relationships and sex is very important. Talking with your child about sex can be a fearful task for many parents but sex education is most effective when built up gradually over the years.
Toddlers may express curiosity but will usually be content with simple answers. As your child gets older, and starts school, their questions may become more complex. From the start, ensure honest, open communication. Don’t ignore the subject, give inaccurate answers or brush off their questions – you don’t want your child to grow up being confused or embarrassed about sex and relationships.
Think about your views on sex and what matters to you in your relationships and family life. Working out your own values and morals will help you to give your child clear consistent messages about sex and relationships throughout childhood.
These ten tips should offer some helpful guidance:
- The best person to talk with children about sex and sexuality is you, the parent whom they trust; they need to know this is a normal part of life.
- Sexuality and relationships education should offer children the opportunity to explore and define their own values.
- By age five children should be aware of touch and their body. They will be starting to understand about sexuality and should understand the correct names for body parts.
- By age seven children will be starting to understand about reproduction in animals and in humans, and may be asking questions about where babies come from. They will also start to become aware of different types of sexuality.
- By the age of 12 years children will be aware of how their own bodies are changing, about sex and about contraception.
- By this age, they should be supported to understand what a respectful relationship is and how to recognise and protect themselves from abusive relationships.
- Support your child to have a healthy view of sex; just by talking with them does not mean they are going to have sex.
- By secondary school they will have become very exposed to sex. Keep the conversation open and be ready to hear when they want more information about contraception. Contraception is not about sex – it is about taking responsibility; all parents need to support their children to be responsible for their actions.
- Clear, honest, open communication with children about human sexuality and contraception, combined with fostering good self-esteem, is central to the prevention of early pregnancy.
- Be brave; children are curious, very factual and love information. Remember how you learnt about sex and sexuality, was it the way you would wish for your child? It’s simply another conversation so take the leap and start it with your child today.
This week’s ’10 Ways to’ is by One Family’s Director of Children and Parenting Services, Geraldine Kelly.
Coming soon: 10 Ways to Develop Coping Skills in Your Family; 10 Ways to Encourage Healthy Eating; and 10 Ways to Make the Most of the Playground.
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