Where Did I Come From?
When to Explain the Birds and the Bees
Your children's questions about the biological processes of sex and reproduction can be scary. They can come at intimidating times, in intimidating places, or intimidating language. You may find yourself in a position where you are fielding questions from children who aren't even yours.
Though you know how important it is to tackle the problem these questions present head on and get the answers right, the whole idea may simply seem overwhelming to you. In fact, you may find it downright uncomfortable to contemplate. If you prepare yourself ahead of time however, you will find that handling the issue of sex education for children sensitively and age appropriately is never as difficult as you might imagine.
Always Answer the Question
When your child asks you a question be sure that whatever else your objective may be you answer it fully and completely. If your child asks their question in an inappropriately public place for example, you may want to put them off until a later time. That is fine as long as you:
A) Address the question at the promised later time and appropriate location.
B) Address it relatively quickly. Don't wait for them to forget it in order to avoid the issue altogether.
Choose your words carefully so that you do not give your child that the topic is shameful or unpleasant and give them a concrete time and place when a longer discussion can occur. If you put them off, they will continue to ask. If the behavior continues, they will simply learn to go elsewhere for information.
Do pay attention to what your child is actually asking you, though. You may hear "Where do babies come from?" and think it is time for the talk when your child really wants to know if they arrive at the grocery store, the doctor's office, or the hospital. Answering the correct question will save you a lot of distress and your child a lot of confusion.
Be Brief But Accurate
If your child is asking questions about sex and reproduction, it is very important to be honest and accurate with them. If you are not then you risk teaching them the wrong lessons. So when a child asks where a baby grows in your body, tell them the uterus and not the tummy. Similarly when they ask for the names of body parts, actually use proper names like penis and vagina rather than cutesy nicknames. While you are being honest and accurate, however, you also need to keep things age appropriate.
The younger a child is, the briefer and more on topic your explanations should be. That way, you can build a foundation for them, adding facts to the picture in bits and pieces as they age and become capable of coping with the information. As long as you are careful to appear comfortable and at ease with the topic, you will find that your child is as well. Ideally, when your child is old enough to need more extensive discussion of the topic, they will have no difficulty coming to you with problems or questions.
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