When to Talk to Your Children About Sex

Sex education, as it's usually called, begins in the home. Don't miss the opportunities that arise to instruct your children on this subject.
When to Talk to Your Children About Sex

Last update: 20 September, 2018

No matter how long you put it off or try to avoid it, the day will come when you’ll need to talk to your children about sex.
For many parents, this is a daunting and uncomfortable thought. However, talking about sex with your children is a responsibility that every mother and father must face as something natural. 

Many consider adolescence to be the right time to address this subject. However, the first time you talk to your children about sex needs to take place during childhood .

Those who support this idea make a strong argument. They ask: Would you leave the nourishment and health of your children in the hands of TV and the internet?

You should also ask yourself if you want your child’s friends to be the ones who teach your little one his or her first lessons on sex. The answer goes without saying. It’s an obvious no.

Therefore, it’s better to take the initiative and sit down to talk to your children about sex. In these modern times, it’s no longer a taboo subject. Having information early on is very valuable.

Recommendations according to a child’s age

As we mentioned above, it’s a good idea to start talking to your children while they’re still young. However, this doesn’t mean you should torture them with information they can’t understand or don’t care about.

Keep the following advice in mind in order to approach the subject tactfully according to your child’s age.

From 2 to 4 years of age

During this stage, children find themselves in a process of discovering their own bodies. It’s important that family members refer to their body parts with the correct terminology. For example, use the words “penis” and “vagina” so that your children know their meaning and aren’t ashamed to talk about them.

Of course, it’s also important to teach children to defend their own privacy. This means being familiar with their body parts and their functions, and not allowing anyone to touch them.

When to Talk to Your Children About Sex

Ages 4 to 5

If you still haven’t talked to your children by this point, they may begin to ask about their genitals. They may also ask about their birth or where there were before they were in mom’s belly.

Don’t worry. Try to explain things naturally and reinforce the limits your children need to establish.

Between the ages of 5 and 8

This is the point in life when children start to create their gender identity. Don’t box them into stereotypical compartments like “dolls are for girls and toy cars are for boys.” Leave them alone to explore the sensation of their own bodies.

Just as in the previous stage, try to address all of your children’s questions. It’s important not to badger them, while at the same time assuring them that you’re there to address their doubts with respect and patience.

In these modern times, it’s no longer a taboo subject. Having information early on is very valuable.

Ages 9 to 12

Children between the ages of 9 and 12 experience their first crushes and begin pre-puberty. They also start to detach themselves from their parents and interact more with their peers. Ideally, you should progressively explain the changes their bodies will soon undergo.

This is especially true in regards to young women. This is the stage prior to their first menstruation. During this stage, the physical-chemical functioning of their brains takes on the characteristics of that of an adult.

From 12 years old and up

This is a crucial time to talk to your children about sex. In this stage of life, children have almost full functioning of their genitals. Therefore, you need to inform them about sexually transmitted diseases, birth control methodsand sexual responsibility in general.

When to Talk to Your Children About Sex

Tips to talk to your children about sex

There’s no one way to talk to your children about sex. That being said, it’s extremely important that you address the issue tactfully. To do so, we suggest the following:

  • Don’t give a sermon: You don’t need to give an hour-long lesson. Rather, take advantage of specific topics that arise while you’re watching TV or talking about school. Limit yourself to clarifying doubts. Unless your child asks, wait until a later opportunity to go more in depth.
  • Don’t put it off: Being cautious doesn’t mean putting the subject off for months. If you do, you’ll only manage to increase the pressure and discomfort when you finally sit down to talk. Handle things naturally and as frequently as possible.
  • Make your children feel comfortable: Obviously, you should never make fun of or make jokes about the questions your children raise. You should respond clearly and firmly. If appropriate, you can share a personal experience about the discussion topic.

Just like many other issues in life, communication and prevention are both essential when it comes to sex education.

Knowledge gives children the capacity to make free and conscious decisions. Don’t waste the opportunity to talk to your children about sex. Your conversations will serve to guide your children around this delicate subject for the rest of their lives.


This text is provided for informational purposes only and does not replace consultation with a professional. If in doubt, consult your specialist.