Mayo Q&A: How To Talk To Young Children About Anatomy And Sex | Family and relationships


DEAR MAYO CLINIC: I have two children – a 3 year old son and a newborn daughter. My son is starting to notice his anatomy more, touching his genitals and asking about his sister. He notices that his anatomy is different from his. He also asked me how it came in and out of my body. I wonder if you have any advice on how best to answer his questions and tackle other curiosities that might arise as a result?

ANSWER: Sex education often begins with children’s curiosity about their bodies. Here’s how to set the stage for sex education and how to answer your children’s questions.

Sex education is a topic that many parents would rather avoid. If you have young children, you might think you’re off the hook, at least for a while. But this is not necessarily true, especially since your recent pregnancy has raised questions.

Generally speaking, sex education can start at any time, but it is best to let your children dictate the pace of their questions.

Early exploration

As children learn to walk and talk, they also begin to learn more about their bodies. Open the door to sex education by teaching your children the proper names of sex organs, perhaps during bath time. You can incorporate the information by answering your son’s questions about his little sister.

If he points to any part of the body, just tell him what it is. It is also a good time to talk about the parts of the body that are deprived.

When your kids ask about their bodies – or yours – don’t laugh, don’t laugh, and don’t be embarrassed. Take the questions at face value and come up with straightforward, age-appropriate answers. If your kids want to know more, they’ll ask you.

Expect self-stimulation

Many toddlers express their natural sexual curiosity through self-stimulation. Boys can pull on their penises and girls can rub their genitals. Teach your children that masturbation is a normal but private activity.

If your kids start to masturbate in public, try to distract them. If that fails, take your kids aside for a reminder about the importance of privacy.

Sometimes frequent masturbation can indicate a problem. Maybe the kids are feeling anxious or not getting enough attention at home. It can even be a sign of sexual abuse.

Teach your children that no one is allowed to touch their private parts without permission. If you are concerned about your children’s behavior, consult their health care provider.

Curiosity towards others

By the age of 3 or 4, children often find that boys and girls have different genitals. As your son noticed, his sister is different. It helps to come up with a simple explanation, such as “boys and girls’ bodies are made differently”.

As natural curiosity sets in, you may see your child playing doctor or examining another child’s sexual organs. While such an exploration is far removed from adult sexual activity – and harmless when only young children are involved – as a family matter, you may want to set limits on such exploration. .

Everyday moments are essential

Sex education is not just a revealing discussion. Instead, take advantage of the daily opportunities to chat about sex.

If there is a pregnancy in the family, for example, tell your children that babies grow up in a special place inside the mother called the womb. If your kids want more details on how the baby got there or how the baby will be born, provide them.

Consider these examples:

– How do babies get into a mother’s womb? You might say, “A mom and dad make a baby by holding each other in a special way.”

– How are babies born? For some children, it may be enough to say, “Doctors and nurses help babies who are ready to be born. If your child wants more details, you could say, “Usually a mother pushes the baby out of her vagina. “

As your child grows and asks more detailed questions, you can provide more detailed answers. Answer specific questions using the correct terminology.

Even if you are uncomfortable go for it. Remember, you are setting the stage for open and honest discussions in the years to come.

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