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Experts, Parents Give Insight On How To Talk To Your Kids About Sex

Experts, Parents Give Insight On How To Talk To Your Kids About Sex

Some parents don’t want to consider the word “sex” in relation to their child. But protecting kids from abuse means giving them information about their bodies, about sexuality, about your values. It means making your family a safe place to ask questions and share their worries and experiences.

Also don’t forget that as children grow up, their curiosity level increases. They want to know why their bodies are changing and why they react to certain impulses around them. These questions, if left unanswered, remain in their impressionable minds and they will stop at nothing to find answers regardless of where they get them.

Many experts agree that talking to kids about sex can be daunting, but it is necessary. Sex education is a topic many parents would prefer to avoid. But who is best to talk about these things to kids than their parents?

Research shows that kids and teens who have regular conversations with their parents and caregivers about sex and relationships are less likely to take risks with their sexual health and more likely to be healthy and safe.

A Lagos-based school teacher, Arese Omotayo, said she was shocked when her seven-year-old child asked her when she was pregnant what was inside her tummy. She said:

“I was shocked to my bone. I told him I was having a baby and he asked me how the baby got in there. It made me even more confused. I wished I never said there was something inside. It is difficult to talk to these children about things like this.”

For Mr Titus Daramola, a single father of one, it is even a harder task to tell his 13-year-old son, Dayo, that the reason he has hair in his pubic region is puberty.

“The young man walked up to me and was crying. He said he had hair all over his pubic area and that I should take him to a hospital. I was so embarrassed that my son who would soon finish his Junior Secondary School knew nothing about puberty and why he was growing pubic hair at 13,”

he stated in an interview with PUNCH.

Even more confusing was when the teenager could not explain why he woke up with a wet pair of pants even though he knew he did not bed-wet. His father added,

“It was a frightening task telling him about wet dreams, how to care for his body, sexual activity, and puberty. I knew that if I didn’t tell him, he might get to learn it from the wrong hands and ruin everything for me and him.”

SEE ALSO: During Sex Education Class 12-Year Old Girl Exposes Her University Staff Father, Davies Joel Who Had Been Defiling Her For Three Years

A childhood consultant and educationist, Mrs Sowanari Jumbo, said sex education could begin anytime although it was best to let the child determine the pace. She said,

“Children ask a lot of questions. So, let their questions determine the number of answers you will give them on a particular topic. Don’t choke them with information if they don’t ask.

“If you have to ask them, lead them into asking you. Teenagers are often wiser than you think they are. They simply want you to reassure them that they are not alone.”

She noted that a perfect way to begin to teach sex education to children was to tell them the proper names for the different parts of their bodies. She added:

“Open that door by teaching them the proper names for the sex organs, especially during bath time, for six, seven, or eight-year-olds, who you may have to bathe or monitor as they bathe.

“As the child asks about the body parts, tell them what the name is. It will also be the best time to tell them about which parts of the body are private and why.”

An online medical resource, Mayo Clinic, corroborating Jumbo’s assertion, said parents should avoid giggling, laughing, or getting embarrassed when children ask questions about their bodies.

“Take the questions at face value and offer direct, age-appropriate responses. If your child wants to know more, he or she will ask,”

the clinic stated.

It added that parents must monitor their children – toddlers inclusive – for genital stimulation. It further stated:

“Many toddlers express their natural sexual curiosity through self-stimulation. Boys may pull at their penises and girls may rub their genitals.”

Another child educator, Mrs Grace Nwakamma, said every parent must in their children’s formative teach them that no one was allowed to touch their private parts without permission. She said,

“I tell my kids that even their father and I are not permitted to touch their private parts except we want to bathe them. It makes them aware of the privacy of the so-called private parts.

If you think these children don’t listen, try to break the rule you set and see how they will scream, telling you to stop touching their private parts. It is the best approach to make sure no one anywhere will go close to them without them raising the alarm.”

Nwakamma noted that with the prevalence of sexual abuse, parents must teach their kids to trust them. According to her, this will make the children open up to their parents if there are issues with anyone in the family or the larger society.

“As we avoid sexual violence and abuse from the outside, parents must learn to start from the inside. It is better to treat everyone as a suspect than be caught unawares.

“Do not allow your female kids just sit on any uncle’s legs simply because they can. Teach them restraint. Predators wear no batches and children must be protected at all times with knowledge of the ways sex can mar their bodies and minds as kids,”

she added.

ALSO SEE: Sex Education: 4 Common Mistakes Parents Make

On curiosity, Nwakamma believes even children of four and five years begin to realise, at that age, that boys and girls have different genitals. She advised parents to explore that curiosity to talk to the child about sex.

A senior psychologist with the Remz Insitute, Uyo, Akwa Ibom, Mr Usen Essien, stated that children might be seen exploring the body parts of other children as though they were doctors making diagnoses. He said:

“It must not be left unchecked. This is where every parent must stress that a child’s genitals are private for a reason.”

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He advised that children be taught sex ‘medically’ and not ‘sexually’.

“Use medical terms like womb or uterus, penile area, genitals, and the like. Don’t use acronyms or innuendos. These children are like an open slate; whatever you write on these boards, sticks. So, it is best you write the right information from childhood.

“Moreover, sex education is not a single day’s business. Take advantage of every slight opportunity you get to tell your kids why they should wash their genitals properly when they bathe; why they must cover up themselves as they sit; and why persons of the opposite – and this time same-sex – must not play with their genitals with or without their permission.  Take advantage of everyday opportunities to discuss sex,”

he added.

Many parents are confused about where to draw the line while teaching kids about sex without saying too much, which can make the children “grow up too fast” and ruin them.

There are two schools of thought on this. One is of the opinion that it is never too early or late to begin talking to a kid about sex and relationship. The second advocates no sex education till the child turns 13.

According to Essien, it is safe to be in ‘the healthy middle’.

“Make sure your kid is not learning about sex from another source. If they are not asking you and you are not talking about sex to them, they are certainly talking about it with someone else. How then do you regulate the information you have no access to?”

he asked.

An online parenting guide, Today’s Parent, says age appropriateness is all about what details one includes in the explanations.

“For example, if a five-year-old asks, ‘What’s birth?’, you can respond, ‘When a baby comes out of a mother’s body.’

“If a 10-year-old asks the same question, your answer could have more detail and might start with, ‘After nine months of growing inside the mother’s uterus, a baby comes out through her vagina.’

“Don’t worry if your kids are in middle or high school and you haven’t started talking with them about this stuff yet. It’s never too late, and there are lots of ways to get the conversation going.

“Just don’t try to ‘catch up’ all at once — that can be overwhelming. It’s better to have lots of little talks over time.

“The most important thing is to make it really clear to your kids that they can ask you questions or come to you for support without fear of shame or judgment,”

it read.

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