When to Give the Sex Talk to Kids

By Allison Boelcke

Talking to kids about sex can be difficult and uncomfortable; however, it is necessary in ensuring they receive accurate information. Educating kids about sex doesn't have to take place in one major discussion. You can inform kids about age-appropriate sexual information in small stages as they mature, starting when they are just toddlers.

Explaining Basic Genitalia

When children are two to three years old, lay the foundation for discussing sex by referring to genitalia by its scientific names if kids ask questions about the differences between males and females. Don't call genitals by nicknames, while calling other body parts by their true names. This can cause kids to be ashamed and confused about their sexuality as they mature. If toddlers touch their genitals, tell them genitals are private parts and shouldn't be touched in public. Reprimanding them for exploring their bodies can make kids uncomfortable coming to you with sex questions as they grow up.

Mechanics of Contraception

According to the Sex Ed Handbook: A Comprehensive Guide for Parents, second through fourth grade (seven to 10 years old) is the time when kids typically begin asking parents where babies come from and other sex-related questions. If kids are old enough to ask these questions, they need to have them answered them accurately and scientifically. To prevent being taken by surprise, explain pregnancy before being asked if the opportunity arises; for example, if you see a pregnant woman, ask your kid if he knows how pregnancy occurs. If he doesn't, explain the basic process and answer any questions truthfully.

Sexual Values and Safe Sex

Talking to kids about personal values concerning sex or safe sex options should ideally take place before puberty, which can vary from ages nine to 14. Hormones can start racing during puberty and cause sexual urges, so discuss the physical and emotional effects of sex before puberty to make sure they are well-informed beforehand. Tell kids about your personal beliefs about having sex, such as waiting until marriage or being in love, so they can keep them in mind as they figure out their own values and beliefs.

Prior to puberty, you can also explain to them how condoms and other contraception works. Take the opportunity to talk about the possible physical consequences of sex, such as sexually transmitted diseases and unplanned pregnancies. Make sure to say that just because you are providing them with factual information about sex does not mean you are giving them permission to have sex. Elaborate that you want to make sure they have correct information from you, rather than from other kids or television. According to Talkingwithkids.org, kids who feel comfortable talking to their parents about sexual concerns are less likely to engage in unprotected sex or other high risk activities, so tell your kids to ask you any questions they have about sex.

About the Author

Allison Boelcke graduated from Indiana University with a bachelor's in English and a minor in psychology. She worked in print journalism for three years before deciding to pursue Internet writing. She is now a contributing web writer for Demand Studios and Conjecture Corporation.