My 8-year-old daughter came home from school today and told me very casually that she had learnt how to protect herself sexually if she ever felt unsafe. She explained it so brilliantly that I whipped out the phone and asked her to repeat what she just said so I could show others. She spoke about not keeping secrets and letting someone in her trusted circle know if someone ever touched her inappropriately. She went on to tell me children should use the correct name for body parts, like penis, so someone in that trusted circle knows what is being talked about. (Make sure you watch the video below).
My first reaction was wow that’s awesome! Someone has taken the time to have this important conversation. Then I realised I hadn’t had that discussion with the other kids and I would definitely need to have it – something I was actually looking forward to because I had armed myself with the facts and info needed. Oh yes, there was a definitely a time where I would have squirmed around these sorts of topics, mostly because I wouldn’t have known what to say. However, the truth is kids are experts at picking up on our energy and if we feel at ease with a topic, then only good energy surrounds it. It is often our discomfort and our shame that surrounds a topic like sex, rather than the topic itself.
For a lot of us, it is a fear of the unknown. To make this a lot easier for others in a similar situation we have compiled a great list of frequently asked questions and possible responses to these. Before you have this conversation:
1- Find out what your child already knows. For example, ‘what do you think this means?’
2- Give clear and non-energised fact giving around all subjects to do with sex. The more clear and comfortable you are, the more at ease your child will be with the conversation.
3- It’s ok not to know an answer to a question! Your child doesn’t need you to be an expert, they just need to know they can ask anything that arises. If you don’t know what to say, tell your child ‘that’s a great question, let me think about that and get back to you.’ Make sure you honour that promise and get back with an appropriate answer.
To start with I would recommend letting your child know that there is a difference between touch that is ok and touch that is not ok. Make sure your child understands that they can say no to and sort of touch they don’t like and they can always tell a trusted adult if they do not feel safe.
smart answers to kids questions
Ages 5 to 7
“What is sex?”
Simple response: “Sex is when two people come together physically, which is sometimes done for fun, sometimes for love and sometimes for making babies? Does that answer your question?”
Complex response: If your child wants more information, provide details using the correct words for the body parts you are describing. For instance, “A man puts his penis into a woman’s vagina.”
If your child shows signs of discomfort or dis-ease, don’t push them beyond what they’re comfortable with.
“How are babies made??”
Simple response: ‘The woman releases an egg. The man releases sperm and once they have joined it makes a baby. Does that answer your question?”
Complex response: “Sperm comes out of a male’s penis and swims towards a woman’s eggs. If sperm goes through the egg, then a baby can start to grow. The baby grows in the woman’s womb for 9 months.”
Kids this age aren’t ready to hear about arousal, so keep the conversation clinical.
“How is a baby born?”
Simple response: “When the baby is ready to be born, a woman gets ready for her body to help the baby come into this world safely. Sometimes this happens at home or mostly at a hospital. Does that answer your question?”
Complex response: “The baby comes out through the mother’s vagina or sometimes a doctor will take a baby out of the lower stomach if the baby needs to come out a different way. If the baby comes out of the vagina, it can stretch wide enough for the baby, and then it shrinks back to its regular size.”
“Why can’t I come to your bed at night when the door is shut?”
“We all need private time and that’s our private time. If you need private time too its ok to request that and adults need their own private time to connect with each other. Of course you can always can come to us in an emergency. Does that answer your question?”
Complex response: If your child catches you having sex, reassure him or her that nothing is wrong. Explain that you were showing each other love.
Ages 7 to 9
“Do I have to have sex to have a baby?”
Simple response: “No sometimes sex is just for fun and its something that adults do when they love each other or just for fun. Sex always needs to be two adults saying yes and one day when you get to being an adult you’ll get to make that decision for yourself. Does that answer your question?”
Complex response: “There are many ways to create babies now. Sex is one of those ways but there are many ways that babies are created, sometimes with the help from a doctor or sometimes another woman can carry the child for a couple.”
“Does it hurt to have sex?”
Simple response: “No when sex is done with two people who are wanting to do it, it should be an enjoyable experience.”
Complex response: If your child is still concerned, get curious about why. ‘You look concerned about this – what you are thinking?’ There might be a good reason that they are concerned, maybe a tv show with inappropriate scenes.
Once you know their concerns you can let them know that sex is for 2 adults who want to have it, that means they consent to have it, and where it feels good for them.
Ages 9 to 12
“What’s safe sex?”
Simple response: “Making sure that you’re protected from diseases and making sure you don’t have a baby before you want to. Does that answer your question?”
Complex response: Sometimes bodily fluid like saliva and sperm can contain viruses. Most won’t harm you, however, there are some people who have fluids which contain harmful virus’s such as HIV and so you want to make sure you are always safe from these. Safe sex reduces the risk of contracting any diseases – but if you just don’t have sex its often the best way to have safe sex.
“What is pornography?”
Simple response: “There are many pictures and videos on the internet which don’t show women and men in a respectful way. Naked bodies are to be shown respect and honoured and very often these men and women are taken advantage of by people who want to make money from pictures and videos. These videos are not for children. Does that answer your question?”
Complex response: “People who put out pornography often make money from putting out of videos and images of men and women which aren’t true to real life. The images and videos sometimes show men treating women badly and we want to have a world where men and women treat each other well. When it comes time for you to learn more about sex we want you to understand that sex should be something that is both consensual and respectful where both people feel valued and we want this presented to you in a way that shows sex to be loving and where both people feel respected and valued.’”