Talking with Young Children about Sex
By Trishia Van Orden
This is part one in a two part series. You can find part two here.
“Mommy, what is sex?”
“Daddy, where to babies come from?”
Questions like these can catch parents off guard and might make us a little uncomfortable. It’s okay to be nervous! Just remember this is a great opportunity for you and your child grow closer together.
Be positive and honest with your child. It’s a good thing that they came to you. They will be grateful for your support and honesty. Just remember to start the conversation off slow and move with your child so you do not overwhelm them.
Here are a few helpful reminders and terms to start you off on the right foot.
Points to remember:
- Reflect on how you feel about this topic. Does it make you uncomfortable? Are you educated on the subject?
- What are your family’s rules, morals, goals, and expectations for this topic?
- You know your child better than anyone else, so you are their best source of information.
- Children are naturally curious and ask questions. Follow their lead.
- Approach their questions openly and casually. Acting panicky or negative will send the wrong message.
- Use actual names for body parts. Fake names make the topic seem bad or taboo.
- Be sure to define terms that they may not know (uterus, penis, vagina).
- Answer their question simply and clearly.
- Be sure that you know exactly what they are asking so you do not give them information that they may not be ready for.
|Actual Definition||Simplified Definition|
|Anus||The exterior opening of the rectum which controls the output of feces.||A body part where a person goes poop from. This is a personal and private part of your body.|
Two mammary glands that develop on a female during puberty. After pregnancy breasts produce milk to feed babies.
|A private and personal part of a girl’s body that develops when she is older. It is located on her upper chest.|
|Penis||A male reproductive organ that contains the means for a male to urinate and output semen|| |
A part of a boy’s body where he pees from. Sperm also travels through the penis during sex. This is a personal and private part of their (your) body.
A tube that connects to the urinary bladder so one can urinate. In males, it is part of the penis. In women, it is located between the clitoris and the vaginal opening.
|The tube that carries pee out of the body.|
A woman’s reproductive organ located in her lower torso where the fetus grows to maturity.
|A special place inside mom for babies to grow. It is located here (point or touch lower abdomen).|
A muscular tube that connects the external genitals to a woman’s uterus in which she can have sex and deliver babies.
|A part of a girl’s body which connects to her uterus. This is a personal and private part of their (your) body.|
Some great subtopics to address with this age group are: anatomy, essential body functions, healthy touching vs. unhealthy touching, when to say no, and the basics of “where babies come from.” Here are some additional ideas and conversation starters:
Child: Where do babies come from?
Parent: Babies are made when a daddy’s seed and a mommy’s egg join together and create a baby. The baby lives and grows in the mommy’s tummy until it is ready to be born.
Child: My friends were talking about something at school. Can you tell me what sex is?
Parent: What have you heard about sex?
Parent: A man and a women both have body parts that fit together like puzzle pieces. When these body parts join together it is called sex. Sex is something that is very special that a couple does to show their love for one another and to create babies. It is something only for adults. Does this answer your question?
Child: What are the body parts that fit together?
Parent: A man’s penis can fit into a woman’s vagina.
Parent: Do you know what to do if someone grabs or touches you in a place or way that you do not like?
Parent: If that ever happens, you can yell “No!” Then run away and tell an adult you trust, like me or a teacher.
It is important to build from what children have heard and know so they don’t get confused or overwhelmed. However, if ever you find yourself stuck and unable to answer a question, kindly tell your child that you will get back to them. Research the answer and then return to their question within the day so they know you are not avoiding them or the topic.
Remember to breathe, relax, and smile. You can do this. Talking to your child about sex may seem hard, but in the end the effort will be worth it. You will be giving your child important information that they need to understand and love their bodies and to protect themselves. You can do this!
Some of the ideas shared here came from our book 30 Days of Sex Talks (for ages 3-7). You can find more helpful information and examples on how to talk to your children about sex in 30 Days of Sex Talks (for ages 8-11) and How to Talk to Your Kids About Pornography.
Trishia is a wife and mother of three wonderful little girls. She received her bachelor’s from Brigham Young University-Idaho in Marriage and Family Studies. She has a love for psychology and one day wishes to open her own Family Life Education Center where she lives. She also dreams of getting her master’s degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. Trishia loves to be outdoors and spend time with her husband and little girls.