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Kids and Sex Ed

Pushing past "awkward" to convey what kids need to know


April 2014

If you are like many adults, your first introduction to the topic of sex came from a book handed to you from an embarrassed parent or an awkward one-time conversation on the subject from mom or dad. Likely, the important messages they wanted you to understand were never conveyed because of their own uncomfortableness with the situation. Although talking to a child about sex may never be easy, the stakes of not having the discussion are too high to ignore. How should parents approach this vital topic?

Start early

Talking about sex with kids is easier if you begin the conversation when they are young and curious about their bodies. Dr. Julie Steck of the Children's Resource Group, says parents should respond to kids' questions at a level they understand. So, for instance a question from a young child like "where do babies come from" doesn't require great detail at this age. Equally important, says Dr. Sarah Norris of the Children's Resource Group, is that parents try to honestly answer their children's requests for information. "This sends a message to your child that it is okay to keep asking questions," said Norris

More than just "The Talk"

A single conversation on the subject of sex can't cover the many facets of sex education kids need to understand. As children grow more questions come to light, which makes maintaining an ongoing conversation critical. When Indy's Child Facebook readers were asked for their input on the subject, Julie F. said that her discussions about sex began when her children were old enough to sit at the table, which she said makes "the hard stuff much easier when it is part of a normal conversation." Assistant Professor in Pediatrics at Harvard University, Dr. Claire McCarthy agrees that setting a tone that these kinds of discussions are welcome is key. "Most important is that parents need to establish that these are conversations they can have together, that their child can come and talk to them if they have questions or worries."

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Tags: Featured Article, Featured Article, In This Issue, Parenting

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