We live in a world of smart phones, social media, Netflix, and iPads. Your children are not only exposed to different and sometimes adult content on some of these devices, but also on the devices of their friends at school.
Even if your home is a safer space with much more monitoring when it comes to devices, your children can still hear and see things while not under your care.
Children are curious about the world around them, and they are bound to have an endless amount of questions. This inevitably means questions about sex, and some of its components.
For parents of small children, it can be quite a shock when they first ask their initial questions, and thoughts of "I thought I had YEARS before this" might pop into a parent's head.
Here are five ways to react when your children start asking about sex, even when your gut reaction is fear and embarrassment. Remember, you always want your children to feel safe asking you important things, especially regarding this important topic.
1. Listen to what they have to say
When your child first approaches you with questions about sex, your initial reaction may be to say "We don't talk about that" or "You are too young to understand." First off, both of these statements are false and could end up backfiring by making your child more curious or turn to the wrong source.
When they ask you a question, listen. Listen very intently because depending on the child's age, they may not even have any clue that what they are asking has to do with sex or if it even has to do with it at all. By listening and not reacting you show your child you care and that they can speak with you freely.
2. Don't freak out
This one is SUPER important. Overreacting to a question your child has about sex could not only frighten them, but instill in them the idea that sex is bad and to not talk about it again.
That is again not true, as we know sex is a very important part of life at an appropriate time. Be calm and understanding, speak to their level and reassure them that asking you or your spouse about sex was the right thing to do.
3. Teach to their understanding
Parents might have the temptation that once their child starts asking about sex, whatever age they may be, to share everything about sex. This is not only a bad idea but can also create confusion and go right over your child's head.
Teach your child what they need to know based on their age while also answering the question they have for you. This can be an opportunity to talk about special or sacred parts of the body if they are very young, or maybe the different body parts that men and women have. As they get older, these conversations will change, and at each age they can learn new things.
4. Ask them questions
After listening to your child and answering their questions, it is a good idea to ask a couple of your own. The first should probably be if they have any more questions about what you talked about. Then it might be a good idea to ask why they asked that question or what made them want to ask that question.
This is a good opportunity to find out if it was just curiosity, or if there are other sources involved such as a friend at school, an older sibling, or some type of media.
5. Be honest and sincere
In these types of scenarios it best to always be honest. If you are not comfortable with talking to your child about sex, or were on the spot and didn't know what to say, just ask them if it would be ok if you talk to them about it a little later. Make sure they understand that you will talk about it, and you will answer their questions.
These talks don't always have to just be about sex, they can turn into conversations about health, love, attraction, the body, etc. Your child will know if you are being false or giving them a rehearsed answer, so just be honest and open.