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When do children first ask questions about sexuality?

At the latest when there is a sibling in the family, children ask about procreation and pregnancy.

In adolescence, questions about contraception and protection against sexually transmitted diseases such as AIDS become urgent. Since adolescents are often reluctant to talk to their parents about it, they often get their information about sex from friends or from the media.

Indeed, some parents nowadays wonder whether information - or, better, sex education - is still necessary in times of constant sexuality and whether their children are not already learning in school and from the media. But even if most parents still feel responsible for the early sex education of their children, they are faced with questions like “What do children need to know at what age?” And “How do I explain sexuality to my child?”. This is often associated with the uncertainty of how to respond correctly to questions from the child in this regard.

Although the subject of sexuality has increasingly been relieved of taboos in the last few decades, educating one's own children is still one of the most important challenges of being a parent.

What is behind good sex education?

Today we know that well-informed children consider sexuality and love to be a completely normal part of life. A sensible sex education leads to responsible behavior in dealing with one's own body and that of the future partner. Education in a family is therefore much more than talking about sex or contraception.

Sex education

Sex education does not begin with a purely technical explanation of the sex organs and the "one" discussion about how babies are made. It is much more extensive and begins after birth, because children are sexual beings from the very first hour. They gain physical experience, enjoy pleasurable moments on the mother's breast and already play with their genitals when they are just a few months old.

So good sex education should begin before a child is interested in the difference between boy and girl and man and woman. Every touch of the parents, every tender look and every comforting word, in short all the little everyday situations in which a child experiences the feeling of recognition, trust, security and reliability, is sex education in the broadest sense. The child learns that his body and his feelings are respected, that he is allowed to discover his body without being reprimanded for it and that pleasure is not a bad thing, but something beautiful. It learns early on that it is nice to become a woman or a man and can practice its gender role.

Sex education takes place over a long period of time, every now and then and on different topics.

How to answer questions?

If your child asks you questions between the door and the hinge, you should give them a short and age-appropriate answer as soon as possible. This is very important for your child because you are signaling to them that such questions are possible at any time.

In your explanations, use expressions that correspond to the child's vocabulary.

But be honest if you are unsure or do not have the right answer ready. In this case, you can suggest discussing it in peace at home.

Never say to your child: “You are still too young for that”, because it will leave them alone with their important questions. Also, do not give banal answers to avoid an explanation, because with such behavior you make it difficult for your child to bring up these topics in the future. You are subconsciously raising your child to be secretive. If you answer critical questions openly and freely, on the other hand, you strengthen your child's self-confidence.

Include the age of the child

For biological reasons, children become sexually mature earlier and earlier. Therefore, do not orient yourself by the age at which you were informed yourself. By the onset of puberty at the latest, parents should have targeted discussions with their child about prevention and protection against sexually transmitted diseases.

How can I sexually educate my child according to their age?

Sexual education for children from zero to three years

  • Immediately after the birth, familiarize your baby with his body through physical care and cuddling and show him that it is something special and valuable. As a parent, you can shape the sexual development of your child from day one and thus ensure positive access to your own physicality. Only when parents lovingly accompany their child in its body awareness from the first day after its birth can you lay the foundation for a later ability to develop relationships and love.
  • When changing diapers and bathing, i.e. whenever your child is naked, you can repeatedly name all parts of the body and not omit the genitals. After all, they belong to the body like the limbs and all other parts of the body. In this way, your child will learn from an early age that the genitals are not a taboo subject.
  • It is best to talk to your child in the way that is easiest for you. Your child should know the correct names of the genitals, but if you initially find this too stilted for your familiar vernacular or if you speak a dialect in everyday life, you can use other familiar terms. It is important that they are not derogatory and that you, as a parent, do not adopt an unnatural tone.

Sexual education for children from three to six years old

In kindergarten, children start asking questions like “Mom, why do you need OBs?” Or “Why do you sleep together in one bed and I have to sleep alone in my room?” Always take your child's curiosity seriously and answer all questions short, factual and age-appropriate.

  • The most important message for your child is that they are allowed to ask and that you answer them without laughing at them or getting angry if the question is asked in an inappropriate place, such as the supermarket. There you can of course say that they will get an answer later, which they should definitely get when you feel intimate enough again.
  • When you make your child aware of how precious their body is and that they are all alone, you will strengthen their physical self-esteem. This is an important aspect for sexual assault. Only a child who knows their body and has learned to say no can protect themselves from sexual violence and abuse and exploitation.
  • While grooming your child, explain how to wash their private parts. In kindergarten, children begin to discover and display their genitals, also in so-called doctor games. It is very important during this time to use the correct names for the genitals, such as penis or vagina. Because everything that has a name is not strange and helps the child to perceive his body as a whole. Even if your child asks you about your body parts, make sure you give them an answer straight away.
  • Many children pick up sexual content from television or through older children that is not at all intended for their age. Sexual intercourse and child witnessing are often an issue among elementary school students. A child who is not sufficiently informed becomes unnecessarily insecure and sometimes mocked by the classmates. It is therefore important that your child knows how a person is made by the time they start school. You can support this with age-specific picture books that trigger positive feelings in the child and do not confuse them further. Large-format depictions of fallopian tubes and sperm cells, for example, are still too abstract for a preschooler.
  • If your child has not asked any questions about sexuality until they reach school age, you can also give them a little push yourself without rushing them. Some children do not dare to bring up the topic.

Sexual education for children from six to nine years of age

At around six to nine years of age, your child should be given enough information to understand how their external and internal reproductive organs work. Because in school, these topics are often the topic of conversation between the children. Often the wildest theories are developed, such as how children are conceived. A child who has not been informed may be unnecessarily unsettled by classmates and may be laughed at.

  • Books that make it easier for parents to educate themselves are helpful. If you simply ask your child what they know and think for themselves, you can supplement their knowledge and possibly straighten things out where there are still misunderstandings, which are often caused by a mixture of half-understood information from outside such as friends, advertising, Television etc. are caused. If you still have to smile about the procreation process with some childlike theory, for example, then refrain from doing so.

Sexual education for children aged nine to twelve

Now your child is slowly developing physically. You can respond carefully to these changes such as breast tenderness, sweating, skin changes and the onset of pubic hair. As you sort laundry, if your daughter has white discharge, explain that the body is preparing for menstruation, and that white discharge is a great sign of development.

  • Between the ages of around 9 to 12 years, children become increasingly interested in the opposite or same sex and their first sexual fantasies develop. Information about sex is soaked up. Since the parents are often experienced as embarrassing in this prepubescent time and are kept away from their own emotional world, the medial communication of sexuality begins to play a role.
  • Many children are now able to reproduce. Do not rely on your child receiving sufficient personal information on the subject of contraception in the school's educational classes, but start informing your child yourself about it in good time (!).
  • Provide books to help you if you feel that it is becoming more difficult for you to talk to your son or daughter about physical development, reproduction, and contraception. Boys often open up more when they talk to their fathers, while girls usually look to their mother to talk about sexuality.

Sexual education for children aged twelve to 17

During puberty, sexual interest grows and it is time for more intensive educational discussions. Parents quickly notice the changes: youth magazines such as BRAVO and girls as secret educators are finding their way into children's rooms. Pop stars, actors or YouTube stars are suddenly adored.

  • In order to start a conversation with your child at this stage of development, pay attention to his or her comments. If the son casually talks about his best friend's first love, you can inquire with interest without becoming a nuisance. Perhaps this will lead to a conversation about the “first time”. At this age, your parental information should focus on contraceptive methods and sexually transmitted diseases such as HIV / AIDS. Adolescents must be fully informed in terms of their own health and responsibility towards a potential sexual partner.
  • Signal your child on the final spurt into adulthood that you are available to answer any questions they may have. When you tell about how you felt yourself during this period of adolescence and what questions you were thinking about back then, you are moving closer to your child where on the one hand he seeks his privacy and distance from you, but on the other hand Page may still have unanswered questions.
  • Provide educational materials for your child. These can be books, suitable clips on YouTube, helpful pages on the Internet or brochures such as those from the Federal Center for Health Education and hotlines for young people.
  • In any case, recommend that your daughter or your son visit the gynecologist or gynecologist, where your child can not only gain security about his or her physical development, but also receive individual advice on suitable contraceptive methods. Here it can also get rid of questions that are still preoccupying it with regard to its sexuality, but which it may not dare to ask at home.

Can the media replace parents' sex education?

The sexual education of a child is downright a privilege of the parents. Children usually trust their parents. They are the point of contact for all kinds of fears, worries and doubts. This is the ideal basis for good sex education.

  • Even if sexuality is almost omnipresent in today's media and adolescents often throw sexual expressions around, they are by no means really enlightened. Images and media in which sexual content is used for entertainment cannot replace parental information because they reflect the adult world. However, education should always take place where the child is currently in his physical and mental development. Only you, the parent, are so close to your child that you can correctly assess them in this regard.
  • Even if your child does not have access to websites with pornographic content at home, sooner or later they will get to know them at friends' homes or they will be confronted with porn on their mobile phones by classmates in the school yard. Young people have to learn to deal with unsolicited sex videos that arrive on their cell phones. Let your child know about the possible consequences.
  • Show your child that the entertaining portrayal of sexuality on the Internet and in films usually has nothing to do with reality, but is a staging. Educate your child about how films are made. Take horror films or science fiction films as an example to explain how filmmakers use their bag of tricks to create fiction. The same applies to sex films of all kinds. As parents, you can counter the one-sided image of sexuality often conveyed in the media by making it clear to your child that sex is always to be done with trust in the partner, with a feeling of well-being on both sides and with responsibility Has.
  • Young people also exchange ideas on the subject of sexuality in chats or social communities. You should make it clear to your child that they should not let themselves be unsettled by other young people who brag about sexual experiences, especially in forums. There is often cheating here and images of sexual practices are created that are often far from reality.
  • Nevertheless, the media should not be demonized in general, because you can certainly be called in as an additional educator. Help your child and work with them to find reputable sources where they can get further information, e.g. from Loveline, a sex education website from the Federal Center for Health Education specially designed for young people. You can also order brochures there. Put books out for your child and say, almost casually, “You may be interested in this”. Offer to be there for any further questions.
  • Sex education is not just about imparting knowledge. What you set as a parent is the best example of how love and tenderness, one's own body and the opposite sex are dealt with.

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Parents letters

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