Answers to Your Most Awkward Sexuality Questions

Question

 

I’m a new parent, and already freaking out about teaching my child about sex. When is the right time to begin the birds and bees conversation? And what should she know by when?

Answer

 

Raising sexually healthy children is less about hitting some external developmental milestone and more about knowing what you want to teach them and doing it consistently.

That said, kids do need basic information about sexuality, and over time professionals have developed rough guidelines around what you teach and when. These age ranges may not reflect your child’s development stage, and there’s nothing wrong with that.

0–3 years

  • Kids should know the correct names of body parts, including genitals (no “wee-wee” or “vajayjay,” but penis and vagina).
  • Begin teaching the difference between public and private.
  • Be open to gender questions, particularly around differences.

4–5 years

  • Explain what different body parts do, including the genitals.
  • More detailed information about appropriate vs. inappropriate touching of yourself and others, and private and public touching and talking.
  • Offer information about gender and society (why are boys and girls sometimes separated, why are they often treated differently).

5–9 years

  • By this age, kids should know the basics of reproduction.
  • Provide information about puberty (erections,

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