So mom and dad, first came the ABC’s, now it’s time for the STD’s! Never mind how open minded you think you are: Talking to your teen about sex is right up there with sticking your hand into an open fire, right?

Orgasms, ejaculation, condoms, periods … Just thinking about it could tempt even the most confident parent to outsource this task to educators or online search engines.

Tricky?! It doesn’t have to be.

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According to The American Academy of Paediatrics, parents should start talking to kids about sex when they are toddlers, off course, in an age appropriate way.

Your pre-schooler is by no means ready for a course in obstetrics but a simple way to begin is by using the right name for genitals. It’s never too early to start teaching kids the correct name for their body parts. When you’re giving your tot a bath, state matter-of-factly: “This is your nose, this is your tummy, and this is your penis.” When teaching a child the correct name for their genitals, they have no overwhelming shame or shyness around that part of the body. 

And if your four year old asks: “Where do babies come from?,” you may want to start with a simple answer: “A seed from the daddy and an egg from the mommy come together and grow in a special place in the mommy’s tummy called a womb.”  

Talking about sex is an 18-year conversation and if you haven’t done that yet, it’s time. Teens especially, experience big life changes. Their hormones are in overdrive and they may be under pressure to have sexual intercourse, whether or not they feel ready. And, while they may not admit it, teens want support and guidance from their parents.  

Ultimately if you don’t talk to your child about sex, someone else will. It may be their peers, social media or television. You want your child to learn about sex in the context of feelings and relationships, not just in disease prevention.

We have a few tips on how to get started:

  • Acknowledge their discomfort - and yours – and then dive in. Trust your ability to talk to your kids about complicated subjects. Remember, they need this information to make great choices.
  • Talking about sex is not one big “talk” that traumatizes you both. Look for teachable moments.
  • Discuss some of the normal changes that happen during puberty, including physical body changes, hormone changes and thoughts about sexuality. Provide books on puberty and adolescence to read without you present.
  • Spill the beans, but keep your sense of humour. They already know that sex is awesome so you will lose credibility when you present it as nothing but dangerous. Present the upside, but certainly mention the risks. Talk about behaviours that could lead to sexually transmitted diseases and pregnancy. Talk about birth control and abstinence.
  • Don’t judge. Just listen. There may be some eye-popping questions but give factually sound answers in order for them to make safe decisions. Let your teen know that your door is always open and praise him/her for being brave enough to share their feelings.

Studies show that well-informed teens are the ones who are going to wait longer before becoming sexually active and use contraceptives when they do. They want to know; wouldn’t you rather the information come from you?


DISCLAIMER: The information on this website is for educational purposes only, and is not intended as medical advice, diagnosis or treatment. If you are experiencing symptoms or need health advice, please consult a healthcare professional.